First Time Focaccia

I love-love-love cooking and those who know me, know that what I enjoy cooking most are rustic, hearty dishes. Many of which beg for a hefty dose of yummy baked carbs that can be slathered in butter or dipped into spiced olive oil. Which is why even I am surprised it has taken me this long to try my hand at whipping up a slab of focaccia. And with the cool, damp temperatures working their way in, I couldn't think of a better way to spend a cloudy afternoon than baking up a delicious olive oil-infused loaf of goodness. I never found one recipe that really spoke to me, so I went with a mish-mash of two: one from Anne Burrell and the other courtesy of Tyler Florence. If you want to try your hand at this, you will need some bread flour, one cup of really (REALLY) good olive oil - divided, sea salt, table salt, honey, active dry yeast and some fresh rosemary. This recipe is only as good as its ingredients so it will be its best if you use fresh rosemary and the best olive oil you can find. It's worth the splurge. You will eventually want your oven pre-heated to 425 degrees F; when you do that is up to you as this bread-making process is a long one. DSCN1752 DSCN1753 First off, grab a bowl and drop a packet of yeast into it, along with one and three quarters cup of warm (not hot, not cold) water. If your water is too warm/hot, it will kill the yeast. If it is too cold, the yeast won't come to life and do their thing. I couldn't help but thinking of sea monkeys when going through this step! Remember them?!?!?! Okay, sorry - I digress. Onwards. Yeast, warm, gently stir in two tablespoons of honey (you could also use sugar - I like to use honey or other natural sweeteners when possible). Now, place your bowl of sea monkeys in a warm spot (again, not hot and not cold) and just walk away from it and let the yeast do their thing for about 15 or 20 minutes. DSCN1765 It will go from looking like this.... DSCN1754 looking like this...all foamy and bubbly... Next step, into your mixer bowl drop five cups of bread flour along with a tablespoon of table salt (to be honest, I used a bit less salt) and using your bread hook attachment gently mix the flour and salt. If you don't have a mixer, just grab a big bowl and mix by hand. I imagine that making this recipe without the mixer would be quite a good arm workout and a great way to relieve one's stress. :O) Okay, with the mixer on low speed, carefully pour your yeast into the flour along with a half cup of olive oil. Mix on low until the dough begins to come together, which happens surprisingly quickly. DSCN1767 DSCN1775 The dough will begin to pull all the little bits of flour from the side of the bowl and what you will see forming is a very smooth ball of dough (think pizza dough). Mine kept wanting to escape the bowl! DSCN1774 As soon as that ball of dough forms, turn the mixing speed up to medium and let it work its magic for 6 to 7 minutes more. If you are doing this by hand, the various recipes out there suggest kneading it for 10 minutes or so on a floured surface. DSCN1776 At this point, grab a big bowl, toss a healthy dose of olive oil into it and slosh it around so that the sides of the bowl are coated in it. Go back to your ball of dough, pull it out of the mixing bowl and knead it once or twice on a clean, floured surface. DSCN1778 Shape back into a ball and toss into the bowl coated in olive oil. Slather the top of the dough with another healthy lashing of oil so it is lovely and shiny. I much oil! But it prevents a skin from forming on the dough and it is the stuff which will flavor the bread. It will be delicious and well worth all the calories - I promise! You are only using a full cup in the entire recipe, and isn't olive oil supposed to be good for you these days...???? DSCN1781 Again, I digress. I do that a lot. Anyway, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and set in a nice, warm, cozy place. I took Tyler Florence's tip and put it on top of one of my burners (which was off), while my oven was on. Let the bread sit for an hour, during which time it will double in size. DSCN1789 DSCN1789 Once your dough has doubled, grab a sheet pan or jelly roll pan (I recommend the latter only because of all the oil don't want that dripping to the bottom of your oven - I've done that before and do not wish to repeat the smell the house takes on), and coat it lightly guessed it, olive oil. Drop your dough onto it and using your hands, spread it out on the pan. As you do so, use your fingers to create little divets in the dough. DSCN1794 DSCN1795 Brush a bit more olive oil on top, cover and set aside in a warm location for another 20 minutes. If you haven't done so already, pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Okay, you've been patient. Pull off the plastic wrap. It is time for a very healthy dose of sea salt and the fresh rosemary, which you have either torn or chopped. I did the former as I wanted my finished product to look as rustic as possible. And without making it look forced, I tried to get a bit of rosemary in each of the little divets. DSCN1785 DSCN1796 Pop it into your oven. At this point, you only have another 15 to 20 minutes more of waiting. That is all. I promise. And, your place will be smelling lovely from all the fragrant rosemary. Check your focaccia after 15 minutes; if it needs more time, pop it back in for another couple minutes. Mine only needed the 15 before it was golden and ready to be pulled out. DSCN1798 DSCN1804 Grab a large serrated knife or a pizza cutter and dig in! I served mine up with a spicy sausage, potato and kale soup; that recipe can be found here on The Candide Appetite which is a great foodie blog! I urge you to check it out. DSCN1806 As always, Lady D., was trying to get in on the action! DSCN1808

Bon appétit!, everyone!

Meghan xo

Posted on November 17, 2013
Posted by Meghan

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