Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rosemary Focaccia

After a successful first week of bread-making, I decided to venture out a little bit and try a focaccia bread. Due to the abundance of extra fresh herbs I had lying around, this seemed like a great bread to attempt in my second week. Since this a learning adventure as well, I wanted to apply some of the knowledge I gained from the first loaf and use it to make the second even better.

And that brings me to the importance of kneading. If the bread isn't kneaded before allowing it to rise and bake, then there likely won't be enough gluten development, which leads to a denser, heavier bread.

Above, you can see my dough is ready for proofing after kneading by hand for about eight minutes. While I used the traditional method of kneading, there are others ways you can achieve an elastic dough, like using a mixer with a bread hook or using a bread machine. No matter the method you decide to use, strengthening gluten is at the heart of bread-making.

Another pain I've had with my finished bread is being unable to slice it nicely. So this week I plan on purchasing my very first bread knife and hopefully my bread will be more picture-worthy in the future. 

Does anyone have any recommendations? I desperately need one.

Rosemary Focaccia 
(yields 1 loaf)

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread flour
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, more for kneading
1 tsp Red Star Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cups warm water
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 Tbsp olive oil, more for pan and brushing
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
sea salt for sprinkling

Stir the yeast into a small bowl with the 1/4 cups of warm water. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, until foamy. In a large mix the lukewarm water, olive oil, and the foamy yeast mixture. Once mixed, add the salt, 1 Tbsp rosemary, and 2 cups of the bread flour and stir. Continue adding the rest of the flour, a half cup at a time, until it all comes together in a ball of dough.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. If the dough becomes sticky, add additional flour. Spray a large bowl with non-stick spray and turn the dough around in the oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for around 90 minutes, or until the dough is doubled in size.

Spread olive oil on a medium baking sheet. Place the dough onto the baking sheet and spread it around until it is about 1 inch think. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Using your finger or the back end of a kitchen utensil, press 1/2 inch dimples into the dough. Cover again and let rise for about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Brush a light layer of olive oil over the dough, sprinkle with sea salt, and add the remaining rosemary on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the bread is cooked through. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.


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