After making pizza last week and reading all about the adventures of a baker, I really wanted to try making yeast doughs by hand. Usually when I want bread I just toss it all in the bread machine and enjoy the delicious smell and wait for it to beep, but I must say, making bread by hand is really quite fun and soothing! Who knew?
We had a mega snowfall yesterday and as a result, I was not going anywhere! So I figured trying to make Focaccia was as good a plan as any. This recipe comes from that awesome book I recently read, Confections of a Closet Master Baker. She says you can use the basic dough to make rolls or pizza as well as the focaccia. The recipe I made is for a basic rosemary focaccia but you can add any other topping you like…sun dried tomatoes, carmelized onions, whatever floats yer boat! It was really easy to make and oh man, does it taste good! We ate ours with my famous pasta fagioli and it was fantastic. Soup recipe to come soon, don’t worry!!
one 1/4 oz. package active dry yeast (2 2 1/2 tsp)
5 c. all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1/4 c. plus 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus extra for bowl and pan
2 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp coarse sea salt
Stir together 1 2/3 c. lukewarm (105 degrees to 115 degrees) water and the yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and let stand until foamy, five minutes. *Uh, mine didn’t really foam, but I proceeded and it still worked so its probably okay!
Add the flour, 1/4 c. of the oil and table salt and beat with the paddle attachment at medium speed until a dough begins to form. Switch to the dough hook attachment (which was exiting for me as I’ve never used it before!) and knead at low speed until the dough is soft, smooth and sticky…about 3 minutes. DON’T OVERKNEAD!
Lightly oil a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand another 1 or 2 tbsp of flour. Knead it for another minute (it should be slightly sticky), and transfer to the bowl. Turn the dough to coat it with the oil in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot in the room until doubled in bulk, about 1 or 1 1/2 hours.
Generously oil a large cookie sheet. Press the dough evenly into the pan, but try not to make indentations at this point or it will not rise again! Cover the pan completely with a damp kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm corner of the room until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425. Stir together the rosemary and remaining oil. Make shallow indentations all over the dough with your fingertips, then brush with the rosemary oil, letting it pool in the indentations. Sprinkle sea salt evenly over the focaccia and bake in the middle of the oven until golden, 20 to 23 minutes.
Remove from pan and let cool a bit on a rack. You can eat this warm or at room temperature. It’s great dunked into soup!