Rosemary Focaccia

This is my all time-favorite bread; rich with olive oil and topped with freshly chopped rosemary. I usually serve it beside a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Also, It is one of the easiest breads to make; not even requiring a standing mixer. Just one bowl. It has the wettest dough of any bread I’ve made. With an 80% hydration level your hands must be well-floured when initially shaping the dough (in step 7); but after coating with olive oil you’ll have no such worries. This is definitely 5-star bread.

Comments:

  1. This is the best of about three of Chris Kimball’s bread recipes that doesn’t require a standing mixer (or lots of manual kneading). Instead it uses a process called “Autolyse” to develop gluten; replacing kneading with a long fermentation process.
  2. Another noteworthy element is to briefly delay adding the salt by 15 minutes, which will hastened the gluten development by a full hour. This is because salt inhibits flour’s ability to absorb water thus slowing down the activity of the enzymes that break down protein to form gluten. If you add the salt when first mixing the dough, then just be sure to give the dough some extra time.
  3. I made this bread today because a co-worker gave me a beautiful rosemary branch. Apparently, she is blessed with a sizable rosemary bush that sometimes prevents her from opening her car door. Because it is a mature bush the needles were larger and more flavorful that anything you can buy in a supermarket. Wow…she is so lucky.
  4. Given the free rosemary, I only spent 40-cents on ingredients to make these two loaves. I gave the second loaf to a neighbor, because this 5-star bread will become just 3-stars overnight.

Rating: 5 stars.
Cost: 80-cents.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium/Low.
Start time 2:00 PM. Finish time 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared this today are given below:

Biga:
1/2 cup (2-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2-2/3 ounces) water
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast

Dough:
2-1/2 cups (12-1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) water
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 + 1 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

  1. Make the biga the night before. Microwave water on high for 15 seconds to bring water to 110-degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour, warm water, and yeast. Using a wooden spoon stir for 1 minute until there is no more dry flour. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight. If your overnight kitchen is closer to 60-degrees you can use a warmed (but turn-off) oven to help.
  2. The next day, microwave 10-oz water in a Pyrex measuring cup on high for 40 seconds to bring water to 110-degrees. Add flour, warm water, and yeast into the same bowl as the biga. Use a ribber spatula to stir for 1 minute until there is no more dry flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15 minutes.
  3. Evenly sprinkle 2 teaspoons kosher salt over dough, stir into the dough for 1 minute until completely incorporated. By withholding the salt for 15-minutes the gluten development will be hastened by a full hour.  Re-cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Spray a rubber spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Fold the dough over onto itself; gently lift one edge of the dough and fold it over towards the center of the bowl. Rotate the bowl 90-degrees and repeat folding process for a total of 8 folds. Re-cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. This process will stretch the gluten and help it more fully develop.
  5. Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust a rack to the upper-middle of your oven, place a baking stone on rack, and pre-heat to 500-degrees at least 30 minutes before baking. If you don’t have a baking stone than you can use an overturned heavy-duty baking sheet.
  6. Coat two 9″ round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Sprinkle each pan with 1/2-teaspoon kosher salt.
  7. Carefully pour out dough onto a floured counter. Dust the top of dough with flour and divide in half using a bench scraper of chef’s knife. With floured hands, form each piece into a rough 5″ round by gently tucking the edges underneath.  Put each piece of dough in pan, smooth-side down. Slide it around pan to coat the bottom and sides. Flip dough over, then cover tightly with plastic wrap; repeat with second piece of dough. Allow dough to relax for 5 minutes, which will make it easier to stretch. Use your finger tips to stretch dough to the edges of pan. (If dough resists too much then allow it to rest for another 5 to 10 minutes).
  8. Poke surface with a dinner fork between 25 to 30 times; especially to pop any large bubbles. Evenly sprinkle chopped rosemary over the top of dough. Cover and allow dough to rest another 5 to 10 minutes.
  9. Put cake pans on baking stone and reduce oven to 350-degrees. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown; rotating pans halfway through baking. If one loaf is slightly smaller it may need to come out of the oven first, to prevent the bottom from burning.
  10. Allow pans to cook on a wire rack for 5 minutes, before removing loaves from pan. Brush the loaf tops with any oil remaining in pan. Allow bread to cool on wire racks for 30 minutes before serving.

This focaccia taste amazing when dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

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10 Responses to Rosemary Focaccia

  1. lorri says:

    “God willing and the creek don’t rise…” i will make this next weekend. ; – ) Though I do have to make a stop at the local cooking gadget store to pick up a stone and the cake pans. I am not a baker, but as of next weekend I’ll attempt the focaccia because your instructions and enthusiasm give me hope I can succeed!

    • Hi Lorri,
      A baking stone is not really necessary. In fact, I would recommend not buying one just for this recipe (wait until you decide you like baking). You could also use square cake pans, as the pan only loosely define the shape of the bread. Actually I’ve been wanting to try square pans to see what would happen. I bet you could even use a rimmed baking sheet.
      Mark

  2. Jen says:

    I have made this recipe and it is indeed as good as you say, and so easy!

  3. cindyinthemountains says:

    Looks delicious! I’m going to make the biga tonight and bake the focaccia tomorrow. Thanks for this recipe. I recently bought a bread cookbook from the French Culinary Institute and all the recipes are by weight and I don’t have a scale yet. This is totally what I’m in the mood to make. Autolyse is a technique that I’ve used before and yes, it does make a difference and add flavor. This will go nicely with my spaghetti tomorrow.

  4. cindyinthemountains says:

    Thanks for this recipe! going to start the biga tonight to finish tomorrow. Looks Delicious!

  5. Kel says:

    I just stumbled on your blog and was happy to see you made this recipe. It is my very favorite focaccia too – and so easy. I divide the dough into two round cake pans with tall sides and bake them in that. They come out as two rounds – and I usually freeze one of them. Yum!!

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