Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rosemary Foccacia

Holy moly, friends. I baked bread. Genuine, from scratch, wheaty, yeasty bread. Perhaps just as exciting (if not more), I used my KitchenAid mixer for the first time. You know the one, the one gals and guys who love to bake dream about. Seriously, when I really got into cooking several years ago, I dreamed about owning my own fancy, schmancy mixer – with all extra the attachments, of course. And believe you me, when Stan and I went to register for our wedding, I dragged him straight to the KitchenAid display. (Thanks Grammy, for the special gift!)

Now let’s get back to that bread. Warm, fragrant, chewy rosemary foccacia. Perfect for cutting into wedges and dipping into olive oil, filling with your favorite sandwich fixings, or just tearing into straight from the oven.

In the interest of full disclosure, this wasn’t my first attempt at baking homemade bread – it was just the first attempt successful enough to earn its way onto my screen and into your homes. It was, however, my first time making this particular type of bread, so you can rest assured this is not a difficult recipe. Frankly, I was amazed how easy this bread was to make. The recipe has few steps and the times are very forgiving. I got distracted during a couple of the rise times (life gets hectic, you know) and the extra time didn’t hurt the bread at all – which I think makes it a perfect recipe for the busy holiday season.

On an unrelated note, I just have to share that I have the bestest husband. He came home yesterday with a surprise Hanukkah gift for me – a tripod! While some may not think this is a romantic gift, I was fairly giddy and might have done a little happy dance. Okay, I totally did a happy dance – all the way across the apartment. Stan actually remembered me mentioning weeks ago that I can’t always get a steady shot with my camera, and he filed that information away for the right moment. Seriously thoughtful gift. I was touched, and you, dear readers, will hopefully be the beneficiaries of better pictures. So really, it’s a present for all of us!

Rosemary Foccacia
Adapted from Our Best Bites

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 T. instant yeast
1 T. granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 T. unsalted butter, melted
2 T. dried rosemary
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. olive oil

In a small bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Let rest for 10 minutes, or until bubbly. (This is one place where I got distracted. Mine sat for about 15 minutes.)

In a large bowl (I used the bowl from my mixer), combine 2 cups of the flour, salt, and 1 T. of the rosemary.

Add the yeast mixture and the butter to the flour mixture. Mix well. (I used my mixer with the dough hook on speed 2.) Slowly add enough of the extra flour to make the dough come together into a soft, wet, shaggy ball. Be careful not to add too much flour, or the dough will be tough.

Cover the dough and allow it to rise for one hour. (I left mine for about an hour and a half, and it was fine!)

When the dough is ready, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and form into round loaves. Place loaves on a greased baking sheet.

Cover loaves and allow them to rise for 45 minutes.

While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brush loaves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and remaining rosemary.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until light golden brown. (In my slow oven, it took 23 minutes.)

Cool loaves on a cooling rack or eat right away.

** In case you are curious, Stan and I made some outrageously delicious sandwiches on the foccacia – eggplant parmesan and peppered salami with provolone and Italian olive salad. Drool. Unfortunately we devoured them before I could take any pictures. But trust me, this bread makes some seriously good sandwiches.

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