a little and a lot

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Can't Spell Focaccia

According to Wikipedia, focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with herbs or other ingredients. Like awesomeness.

You all know I like food. Good food. And this is it, my friends.

I can hear your protests, because they used to be mine:
"I can't bake bread--anything containing yeast is too tricky."
"Homemade bread is too time-consuming."
"My bread-making attempts don't come out right."

Those days are g-o-n-e. (If you have a mixer with a dough hook.)

This recipe comes from this book from Williams Sonoma: "Family Meals" by Maria Helm Sinskey.

(Am I allowed to share your recipe, Maria? I sure hope so...I have slightly changed the wording in the instructions in the interest of personalization, and I'll hope that keeps me safe!)

I have the great fortune of living in the near proximity of a Williams Sonoma Outlet, where I purchased this book for 60% off. Na na na boo boo. It's worth the full price in my opinion, though.

So without further ado, here's the first recipe I tried and continue to make over and over due to the fact that it tastes like the "comfort food" section of Heaven. I promise that if you follow the directions (and are friends with your oven), you will have guaranteed success. It is only time-consuming in the sense that it's a lot of start & stop. But if you'll be home for most of the day, give it a whirl--you'll find it's super easy to make!

Fresh Rosemary Focaccia
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 degrees F/40 degrees C) *
1 tsp sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour, plus more if needed
2 tsp kosher salt **
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt ***

* The temperature given here is the golden ticket. I use a stovetop thermometer stuck under the faucet to show me it's at 105, and then I fill up my measuring cup. Instant success!

** In my opinion, iodized table salt should be banished from planet Earth. Just needed to say that.

*** You might be tempted to use kosher salt in place of sea salt. Don't.


Part One: Yeasty Substance
Wait time after completed: 15 min
This is the trickiest part, which is not at all difficult!
In a small bowl (I use glass), sprinkle the yeast of 1/2 cup of the water. Wait a few minutes (until the yeast "blooms" or starts looking bubbly/creamy), then whisk until smooth. Whisk in sugar, then 1/2 cup of flour until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot (I put mine on top of my stovetop/oven) until the mixture bubbles, about 15 minutes.

Part Two: The Mixer
Wait time after completed: 2 hours
In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together the remaining flour and salt & make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the flour well, and then pour in the remaining water and 1/2 cup of the EVOO. With your dough hook on the mixer, knead on medium speed, adding more flour to reduce stickiness if needed, until smooth 8-10 minutes.* Shape the dough into a ball, place in an oiled bowl (I use a metal bowl for this part), turn the ball to coat with oil, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let dough rise in a warm spot (again, stovetop/oven) until doubled, about 2 hours.

* I find that "medium" on my Kitchenaid mixer is probably more like a "3." When mixing, I used to stand over my dough over-protectively and toss flour and EVOO at it the second I saw any changes. Recently, I figured out that it doesn't need any additions and I can leave the room and let it knead for about 3 or 4 minutes and come back to find it all ready to go. (I don't think 8-10 minutes is necessary for my mixer, but to each his own!)

Part Three: Preparing the Pan/Dish
Wait time when completed: 30 minutes
Lightly oil a 9x13 inch baking pan/dish. (I use a glass dish, which I rub EVOO onto with a paper towel.) Punch down the dough in the bowl (I can't wait to let Rhet do this part!), then transfer the dough to the pan. Push the dough around, stretching it to fill the pan. Drizzle the remaining EVOO over the dough, then sprinkle evenly with the rosemary and sea salt. (I HAVE used dried rosemary in a pinch, but fresh is yummier.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Part Four: The Part Where Your House Smells Amazing
(Takes 30 minutes or less)
Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and continue to bake until just a little golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. (Keep an eye on it and know thy oven!) Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes before serving. (But who are we kidding--no one does that!)


Unknown said...

Thanks for posting! Having now eaten this several times, I will be so glad to have access to the recipe now. And may even buy the book at the outlet.

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