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Rosemary focaccia

Focaccia 3

I’m guessing that although you’ve clicked on the link to this blog post, you probably aren’t considering actually making this recipe. After all, making your own bread must be difficult and time consuming, and unnecessary, because you can always buy bread at the supermarket, right? If you thought any or all of these things – hear me out!

While I completely understand – bread from scratch can seem daunting – this recipe is actually super easy, not at all time consuming considering you’re making bread from scratch, and 1000 times better than any bread you will buy at the supermarket. Convinced, right? Good.

So, focaccia. Focaccia (also known as schiacciata) is an Italian bread that is similar to pizza in terms of texture and taste, but softer and fluffier. All different regions in Italy have their own take on focaccia – in Puglia, there is focaccia di patate, where the focaccia is covered with slices of potato, as well as focaccia ripiena, or focaccia filled with onions, tomatoes, ham, and cheese. In Naples, you’ll find focaccia with oregano, tomato sauce, and olive oil.

I made this recipe for the first time all the way back in high school, and haven’t stopped since. It is a good starter recipe if you’ve never made bread before, as the recipe requires you to just mix the ingredients to make a dough that then needs a little kneading and resting. Added bonus: during the hours in which the dough rises, you are free to do whatever else it is you need to get done (in my case, write this blog post) and on top of that, the bake time is also very short, making this possibly the easiest, most low key bread recipe ever. As if this weren’t enough, this focaccia is also pretty much perfect as far as homemade bread goes. The interior is soft and fluffy, which contrasts nicely with the slightly crispy, golden, olive oil-y exterior, and the rosemary sprinkled on top adds another layer of flavor that gives this a little something extra. As is the case with most all bread, this is especially good served warm.

Note that this is also quite versatile – if you’re not a fan of rosemary, you can substitute other herbs (oregano, thyme, even sage) or you can leave out the herbs and use more substantial toppings, like tomatoes, olives, caramelized onions, or Parmesan. This is excellent served with soup (especially with this one, or this one) amazing when used as sandwich bread, and a great vehicle for any pasta sauce that may be left on your plate. This is best eaten the day that it is made (not that you will have any trouble finishing it) and you can also double the recipe easily if you want to make two loaves. Enjoy everyone!

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
About 2 1/2 cups cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
Salt and pepper for sprinkling

In a small bowl, mix together the rosemary and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Set aside.

Next, in a large bowl, mix together the yeast, sugar, and water and let stand 5 minutes, or until foamy. Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the yeast mixture. In a medium bowl, stir together the salt and 2 1/2 cups flour. Gradually add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and stir well until a dough forms. Turn the dough out on to a clean, floured work surface and knead it for two minutes by hand,adding a little extra flour a tablespoon at a time if the dough seems too sticky. Alternatively, if you have a Kitchen Aid, feel free to knead the dough using the dough hook attachment.

Form the dough into a ball and put in a large bowl greased with a little olive oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

When the 45 minutes are up, transfer the dough again to a clean work surface and knead for 1 more minute. Place the dough back in the bowl again, covered, and let it rest again for 5 minutes for easier rolling.

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Lightly grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan with some olive oil. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into 13- by 9-inch rectangle and fit it into the prepared pan. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.

With lightly oiled fingertips make indentations, about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart, all over the dough. Pour some of the rosemary olive oil over the dough and use a spoon to distribute it evenly (you may not use all of the olive oil). Sprinkle the focaccia with salt and pepper and bake it for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let the focaccia cool slightly before slicing. Makes 1 focaccia, but this recipe can easily be doubled to make two.

About Francesca Bruzzese

Francesca Bruzzese is an avid cook and baker who has been living in Rome, Italy since 2011. A Rhode Island native with Italian roots, you can usually find her in the kitchen making dolci to bring to her colleagues at work, developing new recipes to add to her repertoire, or planning her next dinner party. In addition to contributing recipes and articles to Eating Italy Food Tours, she also has a food blog, Pancakes and Biscotti (www.pancakesandbiscotti.com).

One comment

  1. Puglia = Apulis