Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rosemary Focaccia

I just finished reading Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen by Alyssa Shelasky. First of all, I highly recommend this book, it is a great story and has a number of great recipes that I am looking forward to trying. After reading this book, I learned a very important lesson - do not be afraid to take chances in the kitchen! You will never learn or improve if you do not take risks and just go for it. That being said, I was very busy this weekend teaching myself how to bake BREAD! I was intimidated by the task, but after reading of Alyssa's kitchen adventures, I knew I had to give it a try. And let me tell you, having a huge loaf of fresh, homemade focaccia in the house all weekend, made this all worth it.

Recipe yields 19" x 11" rectangle (you can also free form the dough into smaller pieces)

1 package dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2 1/4 cups tepid water (Tepid water is 2 parts cold water and 1 part boiling water mixed)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cups bread flour
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp coarse salt
3-4 tbsp fresh rosemary (Do not use dried rosemary, use fresh! You will thank me!)

In a small bowl combine yeast and warm water. Let rest for about 10 minutes until the yeast becomes frothy.

In a medium bowl combine tepid water and olive oil.

After yeast has rested, pour into the bowl with water/oil mixture. Add 2 cups all-purpose flour and salt and whisk together. Finely mince the rosemary and add to the mixture.

One cup at a time, add the rest of the all-purpose flour and then all of the bread flour. Continue to whisk as you add the flour. After adding 2-3 cups, the dough will start to thicken, at which point, you can switch to mixing with a spoon or an electric mixer with the dough hook attachments.

After all flour has been added, remove dough from bowl and begin to knead on a flat surface for 8-10 minutes. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour 1 tbsp at a time. If you prefer, you can use the dough hooks on your electric mixer on high speed to knead the dough instead of doing it by hand.

Add 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a clean bowl. Place the dough in the oil and turn until the outside is completely covered with oil. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours. At which point, the dough should about double in size.

Lightly drizzle your baking dish with olive oil. Place your dough onto your baking dish and spread out to flatten. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

After dough rises, remove the plastic wrap and using your finger, make dimples in the dough. Dimples should be about 3/4 of the way deep at this point. Re-cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours to allow the dough to make its final rise. A little before dough is finished resting, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the plastic wrap. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of the bread with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and any remaining rosemary that you would like to coat the top. (As you can see in the picture below, I only used about 1 tbsp of rosemary on the top. The next time I make this bread, I am definitely going to use more! But of course, this is just a preference.)

Place your bread into the oven. Make sure your oven rack is in the middle of the oven (move your rack so that its in the right spot so you don't have a burnt bottom). Bake for 20-23 minutes. The top of the bread should be golden brown.

Remove from oven and let rest in the pan for about 3 minutes. Remove bread from pan and let rest on a cooling rack. Allow bread to cool for at least 10-15 minutes.

Slice bread and serve with spreads, oils or butter. Enjoy!