Friday, November 15, 2013

Sourdough Rosemary Focaccia

One of the best things about colder weather coming in is you get to turn on the oven and make bread.  And one of my favorite and easiest breads is focaccia.  There are tons of different was to personalize it but I always seem to gravitate to this rosemary version.  I have a rosemary plant right outside my kitchen door, plus the smell of rosemary, especially when coupled with yeast is something that brings an extra warmth to the whole process.

This is the first time I've tried this recipe with a sourdough twist and I'm happy to report it's wonderful.  This is a new starter I'm working with, (my previous one of almost a year met a gruesome end right before Halloween, the less said about that the better), so while it's not all that tangy it did add a softness to the end product.

I'm still milking the special salts we picked up on Amelia Island over the summer and they came in real handy here, salt being a major component to focaccia, at least in my opinion.  Right out of the oven and dipped in some red pepper olive oil this bread can't be beat, and of course it's outrageous for turkey and pesto-mayo with roasted red pepper sandwiches, and paninis of every description!  

sourdough focaccia

2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup more water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sourdough starter (discard is fine)
2 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (or bread flour)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
more olive oil for the top
course salt or kosher salt for the top

Proof the yeast in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of warm water.  In a stand mixer combine 1/2 cup water, olive oil and starter.  Whisk salt into flour and add to mixer.  Mix on low until everything is combined; mix on medium until dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. 

Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.  Transfer dough to a large bowl that has been brushed   with olive oil, cover and keep in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 & 1/2 hours. 

Once dough has risen punch it down and turn it out onto floured surface.  Roll it into a 9 by 13 inch rectangle.  Brush a similar sized baking pan with olive oil and transfer the rolled dough to the pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

After the second rise make indents in the dough with your fingers, cover and let it rise 30 more minutes.  

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, oregano, garlic, paprika and salt.  

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until focaccia is golden around the edges.  If you feel like going the extra mile you can spray focaccia with water part way through baking, this will give it some extra crunch.  Once out of the oven transfer to a cooling rack to avoid a soggy bottom.  Makes 12 portions.

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