Sunday, January 31, 2010

rosemary focaccia...


i love to bake bread on a sunday...

sundays are a lazy day for me. i sleep a little later then usual. then take the dogs for a nice walk. and i just have a nice slow day ahead of me to bake anything i want. i had made a big pot of wedding soup the night before - and you can't fully enjoy a bowl of soup without a slice of bread. so i planned to throw some bread together today...

bread is defiantly on the time consuming end of things but nothing is worth your time more then fresh baked bread. the smell it fills your house with beyond compare. it makes a house feel warm and homey. a fresh baked loaf of bread gives you such an old fashioned sense of accomplishment. you feel so proud just watching it cool on the counter...

so yes, baking bread does take some time - but it is alot of hands off time. and don't be intimidated by the wordy-ness of the recipe. you just throw together the dough, knead it for a bit and then just to wait around for it to rise. focaccia is a very easy bread and it has such a nice texture - very chewy crust with a soft interior. the salt and herbs really add a nice flavor. try it this out on your next lazy sunday...


basic focaccia
about 3 hours for rising time
about 25 minutes of baking

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105* to 115*F)
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105*-115*F)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
couple of fresh rosemary springs
dried rosemary, thyme and oregano

to make the sponge:
whisk the yeast into the warm water in a large mixing bowl and let it stand about 10 minutes until creamy. stir in the flour. cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes until very bubbly and has doubled.

to make the dough:
whisk second teaspoon if yeast into cup of warm and let it stand about 5 - 10 minutes until it is creamy. with a wooden spoon, stir the yeast mixture and olive oil into sponge and mix well.

if making the dough by hand:
add salt to flour. whisk in 1 cup of the flour at a time into mix until dough is well blended. knead on a lightly floured surface until soft and velvety, about 8 - 10 minutes.

if you are using a mixer:
add the sponge, dough mixture and olive oil into the mixer with the paddle attachment and blend on low. add the flour and salt and mix for about 2 minutes until everything is thoroughly mixed. change to the dough hook and knead at medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes until the dough is soft, velvety and sticky. finish by sprinkling 1 tablespoon of flour on your work surface and kneading the dough briefly until it comes together nicely.

first rise:
please the dough in lightly oiled bowl. cover this tightly with plastic wrap. let it rise 1 hour and 15 minutes until it is doubled.

shaping and second rise:
at this point the dough will be soft and full of air bubbles. flatten it into a well oiled 9 x 13 inch pan or on an oiled 11x 17 inch baking sheet. press it out with oiled hands. if the dough doesn't cover the bottom of your pan, let it rest for 10 minutes and then stretch it again until it reaches the edges. cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

preheat the over to 425*F about 30 minutes before you plan to bake.

dimple the dough with your fingertips leaving little indentations. drizzle olive oil over the dough. sprinkle with coarse salt. tuck little tufts of rosemary into the little indents all over the bread. you can also crush up some dried rosemary, thyme and a little oregano in a mortar & pestle and sprinkle over the top of the bread for a really nice herby taste.

place focaccia on the middle rack in the oven. spray the oven walls and floor with cold water from a spritzer bottle 3 times during the first 10 minutes of baking. bake until the crust is crisp and top is golden - about 20 - 25 minutes.

remove from the pan immediately and cool on a rack. see how long you last waiting for this too cool. we didn't last too long...