i went through a serious bread baking phase in culinary school. if bakers didn't hold such odd hours, i definitely would've loved to be one. the simplicity of fresh baked bread still amazes me - yeast, flour, water and salt - so simple! and such a wonder to watch the dough grow, filling with tiny air bubbles and rising tall within the bowl. and then that yeasty smell - aromas just as delicious from the raw dough as when it's baking in a hot oven. we've had a few bad experiences with unsuccessfully baking focaccia but can now say it no longer turns out heavy and dense. after 2 1/2 years of marriage, i can also finally say that i've found my husband's weakness - warm rosemary garlic focaccia! the recipe is adapted from this book which is one of our favorites and a fantastic reference for any bread recipe you can think of. baking is a time consuming process but most of that time if taken up by simply waiting for the dough to do its thing - so make a cup of tea, grab a good book and get baking!
Rosemary Garlic Focaccia
makes one 12x17-inch loaf
2 3/4-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/8 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups minus 2 tbs water (70-90 degrees F)
3/4 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs fresh rosemary
8-10 cloves garlic, roasted in olive oil until soft and lightly brown
1 tsp maldon or large flake sea salt
in the mixer bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 3/4 cups flour and yeast. with the mixer running on low, gradually add the water and mix until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes. increase the speed to medium and beat until dough thickens a bit and is very smooth. add extra flour a few tablespoons at a time if needed until a bit stiffer but still a very runny dough resembling melted mozzarella. add sugar and salt and beat until just incorporated.
spray or oil a large stainless steel bowl and scrape the dough into bowl. lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. allow the dough to rise in a warm place until at least doubled, about 2-3 hours. coat a 12x17-inch sheet pan with a heaping tablespoon of olive oil. pour the dough out onto the sheet pan and coat your hands with some of the remaining olive oil. spread the dough as thin as possible without tearing it. let it relax for 10 minutes and continue until the dough fills up most of the pan. cover with greased plastic and let rise about 1 hour or until doubled.
preheat oven to 475 degrees F. once dough has risen, use your fingertips to gently dimple the dough. place the whole cloves of roasted garlic in some of the dimples, sprinkle with fresh rosemary leaves, drizzle with remaining olive oil and salt. place the pan on the lowest shelf in the oven preferably directly on top of a hot pizza stone. bake 13-16 minutes or until the top is golden brown. remove from the oven and serve immediately - enjoy!