Dear Friend, Do you like rosemary, garlic, olive oil, and bread? If you answered 'yes' to all of the above, I might have something in store for you. If you're feeling a little trepedatious about diving into the world of bread making, might I suggest starting off with some focaccia. It's super easy to make, and, excluding the rising time, very quick. The first time I made focaccia, I was a little shocked at the wondrous beauty that I had created. It's a warm salty bread that melts in your mouth. The only issue I find with making focaccia, is that it tastes so good fresh out of the oven, it's hard to stop yourself from eating the whole pan. This is why I suggest inviting over some friends and sharing a bottle of wine or two, preferably a pinot gris. They will be grateful, for reals. Personally, I prefer to eat focaccia with some cheese and olives and a bottle of wine. I use the leftovers to make a sandwich, and sometimes I even serve it with some pasta or soup.
You really only need a few basic ingredients to make focaccia. Yeast, water, sugar, salt, flour, and olive oil, plus whatever toppings you decide. You can top it with garlic, herbs, cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, nuts, sun dried tomatoes, or olives. This is your opportunity to get crafty and truly amaze yourself. First, grab a large mixing bowl. Mix the yeast, sugar, and water. Watch the yeast foam and bubble like lava in a volcano. This is my favorite part.
You want to be able to knead the dough without it sticking all over your fingers and the counter, but you still want the dough to have a slightly sticky elastic feel. Once kneaded, the dough should be soft and almost drippy. When you hold it in the air, it should drip off the sides of your hand. It should not hold its shape.
GARLIC AND ROSEMARY FOCACCIA RECIPE
makes one 12 x 16" pan
recipe adapted from Rebar Modern Food Cookbook
1 3/4 cups warm water
1 tbsp rapid-rising yeast
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
4 - 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp olive oil
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped
1. In a large bowl, mix the water, yeast, and sugar. Set it to the side and wait 5 minutes for the yeast to proof. The yeast has been proofed when it foams and bubbles.
2. Add the salt and olive oil to the yeast and stir.
3. Add the flour, one cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. When you can no longer stir, turn the dough onto the counter and knead in the rest of the flour. Knead the dough until its smooth and elastic, roughly 5 minutes. Continue to sprinkle with more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.
4. Place the dough in a bowl that has been seasoned with oil. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set in a warm place. Let the dough rise and double in size for 1 hour. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and allow to rise a second time until doubled in size.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
6. Place the dough onto a well oiled baking sheet. Press the dough out until it covers the whole pan. Let the dough sit for 20 minutes to let rise in the pan.
7. Drizzle the dough with 4 tbsp olive oil until it's completely covered and shiny. Spread the minced garlic evenly over the top surface, and then sprinkle with rosemary and coarse salt. With you fingers, poke tiny holes in the top of the dough, so as the dough appears dimpled.
8. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. Do not over-bake, the garlic should be light brown in color. Serve warm.