Sunday, July 29, 2012

Rosemary Focaccia

I'm no shrink (that's pretty clear just from my use of the word shrink). But I don't think I'm overstating it when I say that the smell of baking bread will cure even the deepest, darkest depression. Okay, that's an obvious lie, but it will probably make you feel comforted and happy (at least for a while). Sure, any bread will do the trick, but this focaccia takes it up a notch. The pungent rosemary-garlic aroma combined with that glorious yeasty, warm bread smell - all I can say is wow. I was counting the seconds before I could remove the focaccia from the oven and get my hands (and taste buds) on it. I know real estate agents like to bake cookies before an open house, but if we ever sell our house, I'm baking this.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 ¾ cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1.      Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.
2.      In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.
3.      Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.
4.      Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.
5.      Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. (Chef's Note: This may seem excessive, but focaccia is an oily crusted bread. This is why it is soooooooooo delicious!).
6.      Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough. (Chef's Note: Yes, this is strange. But when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.)
7.      Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
8.      Preheat the oven to 425º F.
9.      Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until fragrant.  Remove garlic from oil with a slotted spoon; discard garlic, and remove pan from heat.
10.  Lightly brush the dough with the garlic oil. Sprinkle with rosemary and coarse sea salt. Bake the until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.

slightly adapted from Anne Burrell
adding yeast to warm water and sugar
yeast bubbly
flour, salt, olive oil and yeast mixture
dough coming together
dough smooth and soft
dough after kneading (before rising)
1 hour later (doubled in size, at least)
spreading the dough into the pan and poking holes

I've never seen it done exactly this way before (usually
you just make the dimples by pressing with your fingers
after it's in the pan). But this is Anne Burrell's way and
it works too (it's just a little less uniform).
dough in pan
dough risen (1 hour later)
garlic and rosemary
garlic and olive oil
brushing dough with garlic oil
dough sprinkled with rosemary and salt
rosemary focaccia

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