photos courtesy of The Son
The Daughter has baked this bread twice for us, and it always disappears within 24 hours. Freshly baked bread is a luxury unto itself. Nothing quite beats the experience of cutting a slice of hot bread, slathering it with butter, and biting into a crisp-chewy fragrant bit of heaven.
It's amazing that so few ingredients yield such wonderful, tasty results. You need a bit of time to let the dough rest and rise; otherwise, the actual hands-on time is minimal. You can prepare the dough a day or two in advance, as it keeps well in the fridge for 2 days or so. Just be sure to deflate it by punching it down if you don't use it the next day. Give it a try and tell me what you think!
A mound of yeasty dough with fresh rosemary leaves
Puddles of olive oil pool in the dimpled dough.
Golden brown perfection
Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia
from Flour, by Joanna Chang
1¾ cups (420 grams) water, at body temperature (when you put your finger in it, it should feel neither warm nor hot)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast or 0.2 ounce (5 grams) fresh cake yeast
3½ cups (490) grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ cups (190 grams) bread flour
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup (150 grams) olive oil
big handful of medium-coarse yellow cornmeal for the baking sheet
2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water and yeast and let sit for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the yeast to dissolve and activate. Dump the all-purpose flour, bread flour, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the sugar onto the water and carefully turn the mixer on low speed. Let the dough mix for about 30 seconds. (To prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl, turn the mixer on and off several times until the flour is mixed into the liquid, and then keep it on low speed.) When the dough is still shaggy looking, drizzle in ½ cup (100 grams) of the oil, aiming it along the side of the bowl to keep it from splashing.
With the mixer still on low speed, knead the dough for 4 to 5minutes, or until it is smooth and supple. The dough should be somewhat sticky but still smooth and have an elastic, stretchy consistency. If it is much stiffer than this, mix in a few tablespoons water; if is much looser than this, mix in a few tablespoons all-purpose flour.
(Alternatively — my kids prefer this way !—combine the water and yeast in a large bowl, and then add the other ingredients as directed and mix with a wooden spoon. Once the oil is incorporated, dump out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, or until smooth and supple.)
Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl, and turn the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with an oiled piece of plastic wrap or a lint-free damp cloth. Place the bowl in a draft-free, warm place (78 to 82 degrees F is ideal) for 2 to 3 hours. The dough should rise until it is about double in bulk.
Once the dough has risen, flour your hands and your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 15 inches. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a baking sheet to keep the dough from sticking (we used flour) and place the dough rectangle on the sheet. Generously flour the top of the dough, and then cover it loosely but completely with a piece of plastic wrap or a lint-free damp cloth. Place in a warm area for another hour or so, or until the dough rises a bit and gets puffy and pillowy.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 425º F.
When the dough is ready, remove the plastic wrap—call the kids over- they love this too—and dimple the dough all over, using all ten(+) fingers and firmly poking straight down into the dough all the way to the bottom. Sprinkle the rosemary evenly over the top, drizzle evenly with the remaining ¼ cup (50 grams) oil, and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 teaspoons salt.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until completely golden brown on the top and bottom. Lift the dough and make sure the underside is browned before pulling it out of the oven, or you will end up with soggy focaccia. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack form about 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle, then cut into serving pieces.
The bread will keep in a closed paper bag at room temperature for up to 3 days, or tightly wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. If frozen, thaw at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours and refresh in a 300º F oven for 5 minutes, or refresh directly from the freezer in a 300º F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
This post is linked up with Savvy Homemade, Mouthwatering Monday, Made By You Monday, Creative Bloggers' Party, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Delectable Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Made from Scratch Tuesday, What's Cooking Wednesdays, Living Well Wednesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, This Chick Cooks, Full Plate Thursday, Friday Favorites, Foodie Fridays, Show and Tell, and It's Party Time