As a child, and I remember the first time I ever had focaccia. It was my first foray into the wonderful world of bread beyond plain white sandwich bread and baguettes with crusts so tough I thought my teeth would break. I fell in love on the spot with the chewy texture of the bread and the added flavor of salt and herbs on top. When I got the indispensable Baking With Julia, Focaccia was one of the first recipes I tried.
With the help of a KitchenAid, this recipe is quite easy - it just needs to be mixed for about 10 minutes (but would take much longer by hand). The hardest part is waiting for the dough to chill a whole 24 hours between the first two rises and time it is baked.
Inspired by the Pizza Bianca we had in Rome on our honeymoon, I brushed this with olive oil and sprinkled it with rosemary and sea salt before baking. However you can use infused olive oil, any herb you like, or even brush it thinly with pizza sauce.
Because I used a pastry brush, I'm submitting this to the July Tasty Tools blog event, which you can read about on Joelen's Culinary Adventures
(adapted from Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan) - makes 2 rectangular loaves
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (this is one envelope plus a little extra - be sure to measure it out)
1 1/4 cup warm (90-95 F) water
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
Whisk together 1/4 cup of the warm water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, and set aside for 5 minutes.
Pour the remaining water into a glass measuring cup and stir in the olive oil.
Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl.
Stir the olive oil-water mixture into the yeast and whisk gently.
Add half the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula.
Using the dough hook, add the rest of the flour and mix on low for about 3 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. If it is overly dry, add a few drops of warm water and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix for 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and form into a ball.
Lightly grease a bowl and place the dough ball in it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature 1-1 1/2 hours (or until doubled in size).
After the first rise, fold the dough on itself to deflate it, then let it rise again, about one hour.
Deflate the dough gently and place on a floured surface. Using a dough scraper, cut it in half and shape each half into a ball.
Pour a little olive oil into each of two gallon-sized bags, and place one ball of dough in each bag.
Refrigerate 24-36 hours.
1 1/2 hours before you plan to bake the dough, remove the bags from the refrigerator and each ball of dough out of its bag.
Place on a lightly-floured surface and dust the top of each piece of dough with flour. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and allow to rest for one hour
Baking the bread:
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment, and sprinkle with cornmeal.
Gently shape each piece of dough into a rectangle, place on a baking sheet, and brush with olive oil.
Cool on a wire rack, then cut into squares and enjoy!