I’ve been sitting here staring at my computer screen for some time. Doing what, you ask? Well, reader, I’ve been trying to craft a non-awkward introduction to this recipe. Something along the lines of “everyone loves the smell of freshly-baked bread” or “the scent of homemade bread wafting though my house is so magical,” blah blah blah.
I can’t seem to get it right, so I’ll be blunt: homemade bread is good. This is a good recipe for homemade bread. Make this bread and you will be happy.
I love this recipe because the olive oil drizzled on the pan helps the bottom bake to a lovely golden, crunchy crust. The interior is dense but soft, and the top, sprinkled with sea salt and rosemary, is slightly crispy. The sooner you can consume this focaccia once it’s out of the oven, the better, although it will keep in an airtight container for a day or two. It freezes well too. Leftovers make a fabulous panzanella salad, or you can toast cubes and use them as croutons.
I hear/read that dipping your bread in olive oil and vinegar is passé, but I think it is the perfect way to serve this bread. A good extra virgin olive oil and a nice balsamic with this bread suit my tastes just fine. It would also be good dunked in soup or stew, or split, toasted and made into a delectable focaccia sandwich.
I love bread. Can you tell?
- 2 packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1 and ¾ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried or fresh chopped rosemary
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar, ½ cup olive oil, the flour, and the fine sea salt. Attach bowl to mixer; using the dough hook, knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. Add up to ½ cup flour while kneading ton prevent the dough from sticking.
- Form the dough into a ball, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in volume, about 1 and ½ hours.
- Pour the remaining ¼ cup olive oil evenly into a half-sheet pan (the pan I used was 11x14-inch). Turn the dough into the pan, and press it out evenly into a rectangle the covers the entire bottom. Cover the pan loosely with a dry kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat it to 450 degrees F. Dimple the dough by pressing your fingertips all the way into it at 1-inch intervals over the entire surface. Sprinkle with the coarse salt and the chopped rosemary.
- Bake the focaccia until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.
- Store in an airtight container for 1-2 days, or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Reheat at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes.
Source: Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking (2003 Edition)