Monday, February 27, 2012

Rosemary Focaccia

A lady that Randal works with has been sharing the herbs she grows with us, and as both Randal and I have black thumbs (literally everything we plant dies!) we are both so grateful for that as we love fresh herbs. I knew I wanted to bake something for Sue as a thank you, and as I was looking through my new favourite cookbook SaraBeth's Bakery I found a rosemary focaccia recipe that looked perfect, and just like everything I have made from this book, it was great!

2 cups cold water
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, as needed
1 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus additional for the bowl

1. Sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve. Pour into a mixer bowl. Add 1 3/4 cups cold water and the rosemary and whisk to combine.

2. Attached the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add half of the flour, then the salt. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Knead on medium-low speed just until the dough is smooth and it cleans the bowl, about 3 minutes. Do not overknead. Gather up the dough and shape into a ball.

3. Coat the inside of a medium bowl generously with olive oil. Place the ball of dough in the bow, and turn to coat with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

4. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a half-sheet pan, and spread evenly with your fingers. Punch down the dough and transfer to the oiled pan. Using your hands, coax and stretch the dough to fill the pan. If the dough is too elastic, cover the dough in the pan with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes, then try again.

5. Choose a warm place in the kitchen for proofing. Slip the pan into a tall "kitchen-sized" plastic bag and place two tall glasses of very hot water in the bag at opposite ends of the pan to keep the plastic from touching the dough. Tightly close the bag, trapping air in the bag to partially inflate it. Let stand in a warm place until the dough looks puffy, about 45 minutes.

6. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Fill a spray bottle with water. Remove the glasses from the bag, then the pan. Using your fingers, gently dimple the top of the dough. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over the top of the dough. Using the palms of your hands, taking special care not to deflate the dough, very lightly spread the oil over the focaccia.

7. Place the focaccia in the oven. Aiming for the walls of the oven (and not the top of the focaccia), spray water into the oven. The water will create steam to help crisp the focaccia. Bake until the focaccia is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes before serving. Cut into rectangles and serve warm or at room temperature.

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