We have been blessed with an extended summer this year, which is why it was so great to find ourselves last weekend at a friend’s house in the suburbs enjoying some lunch on their patio. We had all recently visited the costal Italian region of Cinque Terre (see our story), where we enjoyed peaceful sea views, delicious food, and especially warm focaccia.
Inspired by their trip, our friends have been making this rosemary focaccia at home ever since. The bread comes out nice and crisp on the outside, and soft and doughy on the inside, served warm. The flavor and texture is fostered by fresh rosemary and abundant extra virgin olive oil, and this recipe calls for a good healthy amount of it. Don’t be afraid.
- Place the water, yeast, and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm (not hot) place and let it sit there, at least 15 minutes, until the yeast is bubbling and gives off its scent. Meanwhile, remove the rosemary leaves from the stems and chop them finely, discarding the stems.
- Fit your mixer with a dough hook. In the bowl of the mixer, combine the flour, salt, ½ cup olive oil, and the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Then kneed the dough on medium speed for 5 to 6 minutes, until it is nice and soft. If the dough is really sticky, add a sprinkling of flour.
- Remove the dough from the mixer, place it on a clean floured surface, and kneed it a few times with your hands. If the dough is really sticky, add a little flour. Coat the inside of the mixer bowl with some olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Coat a sheet pan with the remaining olive oil. Place the dough on the pan and press it out to fit the entire pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil and continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. With your fingers, go around the pan making holes all the way through the dough. They will fill up when the dough bakes, leaving the bread with a nice textured surface. Place the sheet pan with the dough on it in a warm place and let it rest until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle the dough lightly with sea salt and drizzle it with a little more olive oil. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool slightly before cutting and serving.