Monday, May 16, 2011

Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia

For many, many years, I was not brave enough to use yeast.  The process was overwhelming to me, and as a result, I would not attempt to bake any kind of bread.  There was a part of me that felt no need (no pun intended) to attempt bread.  Why hassle with yeast and go through the work of kneading when a wide variety of breads, buns, pizza doughs, and the like is readily available at the bakery and grocery store?  I'd like to say that I had some amazing pivotal moment or an epiphany, but I didn't.  One day, now many years ago, I simply decided it was time to try; I was already cooking and baking 90% of what my family ate, so why not?

What stood out the most to me about yeast was how easy the process of proofing is.  It's really just a matter of adding yeast to water, ensuring that the water is the right temperature, and allowing it to sit for 5 minutes to see if the yeast is active or not.  And the kneading?  With the use of a Kitchen Aid mixer, no kneading is necessary;  the machine does it for you.  Suddenly, the "big deal" with yeast and bread, was really no big deal at all.   And I'm glad I overcame my fear of yeast--otherwise I would never have experienced freshly baked breads like this focaccia.

Focaccia is a flat Italian bread that is usually topped with olive oil and some kind of herb or herb mixture.  It requires the use of yeast and is similar in texture and appearance to pizza dough.  Unlike pizza dough, the top surface of focaccia is generally dotted or dimpled before baking.  The small dimples, made using your finger, a small kitchen utensil handle, or a chopstick (my personal favorite), are designed to create multiple wells on the surface of the dough as a way to preserve it's moisture.  It is a wonderful bread for sandwiches or panini, a base for pizzas, or a side for a variety of meals. 

If what is holding you up is the yeast, I recommend you give it a try.  Take a look at Let's Talk About Yeast for more a detailed and illustrated look at the process of proofing before you start for the first time.  I assure you--you will be glad you tried.

Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia
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2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup water (110-115 degrees F)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast (.25 ounce)
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped fine
Kosher salt

1.  In a small skillet, heat 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add garlic and saute until lightly browned and fragrant, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat; set aside.

2.  In a 2-cup measuring cup, add water, sugar, and salt.  Stir to dissolve sugar and salt in water and then add yeast.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes to ensure that yeast is active. 

3.  In bowl of electric mixer fitted with hook attachment, add flour, sauteed garlic, rosemary, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and yeast mixture.  Mix on low speed until dough comes together into a ball (add 1-2 additional tablespoons of water if dough is too dry to easily form a ball), and begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  Turn mixer on medium and allow dough hook to knead dough for 4 minutes.

4.  Remove dough from bowl; add 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and swirl bowl to coat, and return dough to bowl.  Flip dough over to coat the outer surface of the dough; cover, and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise until dough has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

5.  Lightly grease 9 x 13 baking pan.  Turn dough out onto pan and gently press dough outwards with fingertips, spreading dough until it evenly fills the pan.  Cover with clean dish towel and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.

6.  Dimple or puncture the top surface with finger or chopstick.  Brush dough with remaining tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Use extra olive oil if desired.  Bake in preheated oven set to 400 degrees F until bread is well browned, about 25-35 minutes.   Place bread on wire rack to coll completely before slicing, about 20 minutes.  Cut with serrated knife and serve.

Recipe adapted from Baking Bites

Other foccacia recipes you might enjoy:
Focaccia with Scallions and Sage by The Yellow House
Puffy Focaccia with Baby Sausages, Herbs, Feta, Garlic, and Olive Oil by Scrumptious South Africa
Focaccia by Eating Club Vancouver
Grape Focaccia with Rosemary by Smitten Kitchen
Soft Focaccia from Bari by One Girl in the Kitchen
Focaccia with Sundried Tomatoes and Rosemary by The Culinary Chronicles
French Focaccia Bread by Rock Recipes
Easy Focaccia by Baker Wanabe
Rosemary Cranberry Focaccia with Pine Nuts by Angie's Recipes
Sauerkraut and Potato Focaccia by Bitter Sweet

This recipe is linked to Works For Me Wednesday and  What's on the Menu Wednesday.


sandy axelrod said...

So glad I found your blog! I think I am going to try this focaccia today. I am preparing grilled chicken with prosciutto and brie topped with arugula and grilled lemon for dinner tonight and it would be the perfect accompaniment. See ya, I'm going into the kitchen right now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Holli,
you know you are so can make your own bread so i think you are a chef! I am a woman who turns her dough into a stone!

Mamahollioni said...

Truly I am not a chef! Maybe I'll post some bread troubleshooting pointers to help you figure out what is happening and why...keep trying!

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