February 10, 2012...7:04 pm

Easy Herb Focaccia

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After a long, frustrating week at work, I could think of only two options, drink some wine—or DRINK some wine. But when I’m in that mood, I’ve got to keep busy. I really need to do something. So I decided I was going to hit some dough.

That’s what I did Friday night.

Rosemary and sage focaccia

Rosemary and sage focaccia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out to be the perfect distraction, and a great addition to burger night. This week’s burger included my focaccia, caramelized onions and black forest bacon–with a little bit of melted Robusto for good measure. And truffle ketchup is always on the bun.

This is the focaccia recipe I used, adapted from Bon Appetit circa 1995.

For the sponge

1/2 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)

1 teaspoon dry yeast

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

For the Focaccia

1 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups of bread flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

3 teaspoons fine sea salt

To make the sponge, combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl. Let it stand until the yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour. Cover with plastic and let sponge stand until it gets frothy, about 45 minutes.

To make the focaccia, combine the warm water and yeast in a bowl. Let the mixture stand until the yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Measure out the olive oil, and mix in a tablespoon each of rosemary and sage. Stir the yeast mixture and olive oil mixture into the sponge in the original bowl. Stir in 1 cup flour. Stir in 2 teaspoons of salt. Add the remaining flour in 2 batches, mixing well.Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead until soft, rotating dough and flipping once or twice–about 10 minutes.

Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic, and let the dough rise in warm area until it doubles in size–approximately and hour and a half.

(The heavy lifting is done, so now is a good time to have the wine.)

After the first rise, oil an 11×17 inch baking sheet, or two 8 or 9 inch cake pans (this is what I used). Punch down the dough, and place it in the prepared sheet. Using oiled hands, press the dough down until it covers the bottom of the pan. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel, and let it stand 10 minutes.

If the dough shrinks, press it out again until it covers the pan. Cover it with a towel, and let rise again in a warm area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. I warm the oven, turn it off, and set the dough inside when it’s cold out.

Preheat the oven at 425 and place a baking stone or baking sheet on the middle rack.

Make sure the dough is pressed firmly into the pan, using your fingertips to make “dimples” in the dough. Drizzle the dough with 2 tablespoons if oil, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of rosemary, and 1 teaspoon salt.

Place the pan with the dough directly on the hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Spray oven with water (a spray bottle is ideal, but I just throw some in). Bake until the focaccia is golden crisp, spraying the oven with water again twice more during first 10 minutes. Bake for 20-25 minutes total. My oven runs hot, and 25 minutes makes it a little dry, so keep an eye on it.

Transfer the bread to a rack and cool before wrapping tightly and storing. The focaccia dries out quickly.

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