I’ve made this Rosemary Focaccia recipe twice in the past week. The first time we ate the focaccia with rigatoni and meat sauce, the dignified way, cut into neat squares and served alongside our dinner. The second time we just gathered in the kitchen, poured some red wine and tore off big hunks from the corners while the focaccia was still warm, our fingers covered in olive oil and salt. I can say confidently you’ll enjoy it either way.
I used to make bread professionally – Brioche specifically – which is a bread that is very high maintenance to produce, especially compared to this focaccia recipe. Brioche dough requires special mixing of the ingredients (think lots of eggs and butter….Ohhh, the butter) which needs to then be rested overnight, and then individually weighed, shaped, rested again, proofed, and then either baked or (for bomboloni) deep fried and filled, then glazed. It was most definitely a labour of love! I used to roll out brioche for bomboloni 300 at a time! Although it was very physically demanding, it was worth it – my shoulders had never looked better even though I was basically eating doughnuts 3-4 times per week.
This focaccia, on the other hand, is incredibly simple. There is no fancy shaping or scoring of the dough, and I use instant yeast so there’s no proofing required. The actual active work time is less than 10 minutes. If you can peel a potato, you can make this bread. (Unfortunately making this focaccia won’t give you arm muscles).
Thinking about the little pools of olive oil mingling with crunchy sea salt and fresh rosemary on top of this tender, chewy, fluffy bread is making me hungry right now. If you’ve been thinking about making bread for a while now (and even if you haven’t) this is a delicious and easy place to start.
Some notes about this recipe:
Make sure you use instant yeast, not active dry yeast.
Making a sponge – a combination of flour, water and yeast – and allowing it to rest (ferment) for about 30 minutes before continuing with the rest of the recipe improves the flavour of the bread and also encourages more of those beautiful holes in the finished product.
Adding the potato increases the moisture and fluffiness of the bread.
Gently coating your hands in olive oil before stretching the dough out onto the sheet pan and making the dimples with your fingers keeps the dough from sticking.
This bread is best warm, but is still good the next day (reheat gently in the microwave). You can also wrap the bread and freeze for up to a month.
Thank you to The New Best Recipe, from the Editor’s of Cook’s Illustrated for the inspiration for this amazing recipe.
2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the ingredients for the sponge and whisk lightly until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly, 20-30 minutes.
3. Add the remaining dough ingredients to the sponge and mix with the paddle attachment until it comes together, then switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy, about 5 minutes.
4. Gather the dough into a nice ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm spot (on top of the oven with the overhead light on works for me) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Generously oil a 10 1/2” by 15 1/2” baking sheet and lightly coat your palms, too. Press the dough into the sheet, as far into the corners as you can get it without fighting too much. If the dough is really resisting, cover it lightly with a damp cloth and let it rest for 5-10 minutes and retry. Once the dough is covering the sheet pan, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise for another 45 minutes to an hour, until it’s doubled in volume again.
6. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425. When the dough has finished rising, dip two fingers in olive oil and make dimples in the dough at regular intervals (you’ll have about 24). Make sure the dimples are big and deep enough to hold little pools of olive oil and toppings.
7. For the topping, brush or drizzle the dough with the olive oil, and scatter the top with rosemary and salt.
8. Bake until the bottom crust is golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly, then either cut into squares or pull apart. Enjoy!
* 1/2 C Flour
* 1/2 C Warm Water (110 Degress)
* 1 1/2 tsp Instant Yeast (1 packet)
* For the Dough
* 1 Medium Baking Potato, about 9 ounces, peeled and quartered
* 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
* 1/2 Cup Warm Water (110 Degrees)
* 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 1 1/4 tsp Salt
* For the Topping
* 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
* 2 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, minced very fine
* 3/4 tsp Coarse Sea Salt