dreamy focaccia created with a little known greek muse: rosemary ::::
I have a confession to make: I bake way too much. Not just bake, but in warm weather. Hot weather. When people are sweating and complaining about not having air conditioning, I’m trying to wipe the flour from my face and elbows, denying that I had anything to do with the sudden 10 degree temperature rise in the house.
Actually many of you are in the thick of snow and ice, I realize. When it comes to focaccia, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is. It must be baked. No one can resist the tender bite, the saltiness of Parmesan, and the fragrant rosemary. Even those who complain about the heat.
The protagonist of this kitchen story is definitely the rosemary. Some of you may disregard rosemary completely here, It’s not really necessary. The cheese is enough. You may consider it’s “like chewing on a pine needle.” Such irreverence! Believe me, the layers of different flavors make this bread what it is: amazing.
My adaptations include adding the heavenly rosemary in the dough rather than sprinkling it on top. Chopping it very finely is important so the offputting I-feel-like-I’m-gnawing-on-a-pine-tree look doesn’t appear in your dinner guest’s eyes. I also added olive oil into the dough to give it a more tender bite. Don’t be stingy with the salt sprinkled on top. It is essential to enhance the entire flavor of the bread. I used a gleaming red Hawaiian Alaea sea salt, although coarse white salt is just as good. Maybe not as pretty, but still nice and salty.
This bread is perfect with wine and some spicy sopressata. You may also loiter around the cooling focaccia, nibbling a piece, then another, realize it’s half gone, and skip the wine altogether.
- Dough: 1 ¼ cups warm water
- 3 cups bread flour
- scant ½ teaspoon dry yeast
- teaspoon salt
- teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary (fresh is best!)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- To top before baking: 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- a generous sprinkle of fine sea salt (I used a red Hawaiian Alaea sea salt)
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 clove finely diced garlic (optional)
- Using a food processor, beat all dough ingredients for 1 minute. Dough will be wet and sticky but do not add more flour.
- When dough is elastic (stringy), scrape it into an oiled bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to double in volume, 2 to 3 hours. The slower the rise, the more flavorful and chewy the focaccia will be.
- When dough has doubled, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Turn dough to a well-floured surface and make 2 rounds. Flatten to 8-9 inch rounds for each. Dip fingers into flour and dimple top of dough.
- Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt, garlic, and cheese.
- Transfer to baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal and let rise for 15 minutes. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Serves 6 to 8 people.