The Smell of Baking Bread
I promised my Rosemary Focaccia recipe, so here it is, just in time for those post-holiday eating blues. The roast lamb or brisket is finished and nothing tastes quite special enough in comparison. This will, I hope.
I first “noticed” focaccia while having dinner at a friend’s house. Jim had baked his own, and I was instantly hooked. I’m sure I’d had it outside of Italy, but never right out of the oven. At home I found a recipe and tried it. Okay, but not as good as Jim’s. The next time I saw him I asked for his secret. “Make sure the dough is sticky,” he told me. “Don’t add too much flour. As sticky as you can get away with is just right.”
With that in mind I began to work with a recipe I downloaded from Epicurious, a wonderful online source for recipes. I particularly love the reviews and suggestions, and usually pay close attention to them.
The Epicurious version of Rosemary Focaccia had its fans, but some reviewers complained the ratio of flour and water wasn’t correct. After trying it, and taking Jim’s advice to heart, I had to agree. So here’s my revised version. This is a basic recipe, so feel free to experiment with a little whole wheat, ground flax seed, or any number of other additions.
Emilie’s Rosemary (and Garlic) Focaccia
1 package of yeast
4 cups unbleached white flour (plus additional as needed)
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 Tablespoon rosemary softened in 3 additional Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves pressed garlic (optional)
- 1 t Kosher or coarse sea salt
In the bowl of a standing mixer, add yeast to 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. Let stand until creamy. (If you’re using Rapid Rise yeast, you can proceed without waiting.)
Add 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup of oil, and table salt. Using the dough hook, beat until smooth and best of all, sticky for 4-5 minutes. The dough should just barely stick to your mixing bowl. If it’s too sticky, add additional flour one Tablespoon at a time. Stop the mixer and poke with your finger. If it’s not damp enough, turn the mixer back on and add water one Tablespoon at a time until dough is moist to the touch.
Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. I let mine rise in my oven, but I preheat it for a minute first to warm the interior–make sure you turn it back off! Cover dough with plastic wrap or a towel, and let it rise for an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes–until doubled.
While it’s rising, add the rosemary to the 3 Ts of oil and give the rosemary time to infuse the oil with flavor. Press the optional garlic cloves and add to the oil, as well.
When the dough has doubled, generously spray or oil a jelly roll pan (15″ by 10″ by 2″) and gently stretch and press down the dough to fit. Allow this to rise another hour until just even or a bit above the lip of your pan. Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and as it preheats, make gentle indentations in your dough with your thumb. Fifteen or so. Don’t worry, it won’t deflate unless you’re in a REALLY bad mood and you’re taking it out on your bread.
Brush the rosemary/garlic oil–along with the rosemary and garlic–over the bread, allowing it to pool in the indentations. Sprinkle with sea/Kosher salt and bake until golden for 20-25 minutes. If you use the optional pressed garlic, the smell while baking will drive you wild.
Although focaccia is fabulous just as it is in the above photo–with a little olive oil mixed with herbs for dipping–it also makes the most wonderful sandwiches. Slice a good-sized chunk horizontally, fill with sliced cheese (I like pepper jack for this) and chopped tomatoes. Brush one interior side with a little light mayonnaise and grill in a panini grill. Don’t have one? Pull out that old George Foreman grill you haven’t used for awhile and use that instead. That’s all I do, and I never get tired of these sandwiches.
Focaccia also makes wonderful appetizers. Toast, lightly covered with olive oil, mozarella, tomatoes, and the fruits of your imagination.
Omigod, Emilie, this sounds so good! Like you, I used to bake all my own bread. Since I didn’t have kids, though, I only did it every other week. I also made my own granola. Bet you did that, too. I haven’t baked bread, though, since my breadmaker died about five years ago. I do, however, also have a Kitchenaid, so I think I’m going to give this a try.
PS Thank you for not including caloric info, which would have spoiled everything!
Oh yes, to the granola, although that was Michael’s job. We now make muesli, which is healthier and oh, so good. But our kids still talk about the granola. Don’t worry about the calories. If you make it yourself, there ARE no calories!
Have you tried the Butter Kase (butter cheese) at Heidelberg Bakery? It’s a soft creamy deli cheese and was yummy when I melted it into my focaccia sandwich.
You are personally responsible for the ten pounds I will gain as soon as I can get over there to buy this wonder cheese. Yum!
Wow, what a fab looking recipe—-I’m going to give this one a whirl over the coming weekend. I absolutely adore cooking. I bake all our bread here now, also my way of stuffing whole grains into my kid while keeping him away from preservatives 🙂
Let me know how you like it. It’s our favorite, but I only bake it about every third time and the others are all whole grains. I figure the occasional splurge is allowed. Enjoy.
So…where is you muesli recipe??? Gonna share? Whole grain recipes? I’m hitting the BIG 60 in July. DD, DH, & I have joined a nearby YMCA & workout 5 days a week. Eating more healthly is part of our “makeover”. Today, I crashed though the 200 lbs marker…going backward…8-)Wooooo-hooooooooo!!!
I should definitely share that muesli recipe. Will try to pry it from my husband, the muesli maker. You sound as if you’re on the right road for your health. Keep up the good work!
Just pre-ordered Fortunate Harbor from Amazon. Also picked up
several more of your older novels. Can’t wait to read them all.
I wanted to get the Lemon Meringue recipe but it did not come up
for me. I live in Norway and sometimes things will not come up on
websites because of my location. Hope there is some way I can get
the recipe. Would love to try it as it is my favorite pie.
Karen, I will send you a copy at your email address.