"All sorrows are less with bread."
~Miguel de Cervantes (Spanish author 1547-1616)
Almost exactly a year ago when I started The Irish Mother, this was my fourth post, back when I wasn't even including photos and only had about 3 followers. This bread is such a treat I felt it was worth revisiting because I recently discovered I also like it better than my usual pizza dough! The dough is tender and easy to pat out into a crust, whereas I used to have to wrestle with my previous pizza dough. The dough is quick and easy and depending on the timing of your day can handle a second rising, but is just as good without it. It is best served straight from the oven, with some seasoned olive oil for dipping. I sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese and hot pepper flakes and minced garlic or garlic powder in a shallow bowl, then pour a little balsamic and olive oil over it.
Since there are generally only two or three of us eating dinner much of the time, I would make a half size focaccia,
|This focaccia was made with half the dough|
then either pat the rest of the dough in a pan, cover it with oiled plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for tomorrow's focaccia, or put it in a covered oiled bowl in the fridge to use as pizza dough the next day. You can take the dough out after 24 hours and it has risen perfectly, ready for baking another fresh focaccia or patting out into a thin pizza crust that will fill a cookie sheet. In the interest of healthier eating, last week I tried switching out one cup of the flour for whole wheat flour. The Mister and I both definitely agreed the focaccia with just white flour was better, BUT the wheat pizza crust was fantastic. Next time I'll try making the bread with some wheat pastry flour and see how that goes. On a hot day (and we've had plenty!) this bread, some dipping oil and a salad are all that's needed for a satisfying dinner.
Fresh Rosemary Focaccia Bread
(makes one 15x10x1 inch flatbread, two 10x6x1 inch breads or two 12-inch pizza crusts.)
1 2/3 cups warm water (no hotter than 115 degrees, or it will kill the yeast)
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
5 cups flour, plus additional for kneading
1/4 cup, plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or kosher salt)
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes, to proof the yeast. If it doesn't foam, throw out and use a fresher packet of yeast, or make sure your water wasn't too hot.
Add flour, 1/4 cup oil, and regular salt and beat with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to pull away from sides of bowl.
Put 1/4 cup of flour on your kneading surface (a cutting board or granite counter). Make a circle of flour and dump the dough on it. Sprinkle some more flour on dough. Knead for a few minutes. Here's how, in case you never made bread before: Just take the heel of your hand, push it into the dough, remove your hand and fold the dough in half. Give the dough a quarter turn away from you and repeat.
Generously oil your baking sheet and press dough evenly into the pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until double in bulk, about an hour.
Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Stir together rosemary and remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Make shallow indentations all over the dough with the handle of the wooden spoon. Brush the dough with the olive oil and rosemary mixture, using all of it (will pool in indentations). Sprinkle sea salt and parmesan evenly over the dough.
Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.