Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

This focaccia bread recipe is SO good and honestly easy.  I had to make it twice last weekend (Friday & Sunday)! It's practically fool-proof.  It's great to take to dinner parties to make people think you are a really good cook.  They won't be able to believe that you made this wonderful, tasty yeast bread all by yourself.  It tastes like heaven AND you won't be spending $5 bucks on some artesian loaf from the bakery.  You should have most of the ingredients in your pantry.  That said, I decided to pair the bread recipe with a beautiful salad.  The classic Caprese salad shows off those yummy summer tomatoes..... and once you eat a whole loaf of warm homemade bread, the only thing you'll have room for is a salad anyway! I'll post the Caprese salad later this week.

Just as a little teaser, here's the finished product.  It's oh-so worth the time.

We'll start with the focaccia bread.  Here are the ingredients you'll need.  I also wanted to note that I derived this recipe from a great food blog called "Our Best Bites."  They have lots of awesome recipes, but this one I use over and over.
 Combine 1 tbsp yeast and 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl.  Sugar is not for flavor in this recipe; it is food for the yeast to help it grow.  And I wouldn't recommend using your measuring cup as a bowl.  You'll see why later !!
Add 1 cup of warm water (110 degrees).  I don't use a thermometer, but I turn my faucet onto hot and let it run until it's too hot to hold my hand under it.  It's important to have warm enough water because if it's too cold, it won't activate the yeast, but if it's too hot, it will kill the yeast.  Give this mixture a good stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
 While yeast is working it's magic, measure your dry ingredients.  In a large bowl, combine 2 c. all-purpose flour (no bread flour necessary), 2 tbsp rosemary, 1 tsp sea salt, & 1/4 tsp oregano.
 And this is why you don't use your measuring cup for your yeast.  I was trying to use one less dish and it backfired.  BUT this picture shows you how bubbly and fluffy your yeast should get.  AND, yes that's a wine glass in the background but I swear I was drinking water out of it!
Now dump your yeast mixture into flour mixture and add 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Begin to stir together with a wooden spoon.  If I had my KitchenAid mixer, I would use it here with the dough hook.  But there's no room for those bulky appliances in the trailer so I use my buff arms to get a little workout.
 Stir until it makes a sticky dough (seen below) and slowly add remaining 1/4-1/2 cup of flour.  DO NOT add more than this.  The dough should be really soft, you don't want a big hard lump.
 After you add remaining flour, it should look like this.  A really tender dough, maybe even slightly sticky.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for 45-60 minutes.  I like to put my dough in a sunny window.  My granny always put hers on top of the fridge, but I always thought that was kind of a dusty place to put such a thing!  Maybe that's just my fridge, but I doubt it!  Let it rise until it doubles in size.
 Now here comes the best part.  I'm not sure if this is even necessary, but I think it should be.  Put on your game face, act mean and give your dough a big ol' punch! Hi- Yah! Then dump it out onto a floured surface.
 Divide into 2 halves and knead each of these only about 5-10 times.  Just enough to work out most of the air and to form into something resembling a loaf.  They can be round or oblong, whatev.
 Place your loaves on a greased cookie sheet, cover and allow to rise another 45-60 minutes.  If you cover with plastic wrap, it sticks a little when you remove it.  I think a damp cloth works best.
 Once they are nice and big, coat the top with olive oil (I use the olive oil spray), and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt.  If you aren't going to eat this within the first day (I can't imagine doing this), hold off on the sea salt on top.  It gets a little soggy over time.
 Bake in a 375* oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
 Can you say, yum? gorgeous? tantalizing? addicting? YES! All of the above.  Enjoy with a slop of warm butter or oil/vinegar.  Pure pleasure.
Now once you polish off a loaf to yourself, make a mental note to 1) not step on the scale for a few days and 2) add some extra cardio to your workouts ...but MOST importantly relish in the delightful pleasure of homemade bread without any preservatives or artificial ingredients. Oh yea and wash it down with something yummy. I'd hate to see you choke on something so delicious! ;)

Rosemary Foccacia
1 c. warm water (~110 *)
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsbp sugar

2 1/4-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. course sea salt
2 tbsp. rosemary (dried)
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. olive oil

Combine first 3 ingredient in a medium bowl and let sit 10 minutes.  Combine 2 cups of flour, spices and olive oil in large bowl.  Once yeast mixture is bubbly/fluffy, add to flour mixture.  Stir until sticky dough forms, then slowly add remaining flour (NO more than 1/2 c) until a soft-dry dough forms.  Place in a greased bowl, cover and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes.
Once dough doubles in size, punch it down and pour onto floured surface.  Divide into 2 halves, knead each half 5-10 times and form into 2 loaves.  Place loaves on greased cookie sheet, cover and rise for another 45-60 minutes.
Once loaves are doubled in size, brush (spray) with olive oil and sprinkle top with sea salt and rosemary. Place in 375* oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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