Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rosemary & Olive Oil Whole Wheat Focaccia

   I was happily mistaken about the level of appreciation that was shown for my menu yesterday.  As expected, a few immediately knew quality.  My shock came from the enthusiastic agreement of the rest.  Yesterday was absolute bliss for me.  I cooked all day and was allowed to witness the pleasure my food brought people.
   I upped the "fancy-factor" of my sliders by making my own focaccia.  It will pretty much blow your guests' minds if you make your own bread.  One guy said it was probably the best bread he'd ever had (and later said it may have been the best meal he'd ever had.  Not sure if I believe that, but I know it is a far cry from his normal microwaved ramen.)

  This bread is crisp on the out side with a little crunch of salt and fluffy on the inside.  Tender and just a teeny bit chewy, it is addictive.  Once you get the hange of it, you'll make focaccia every week.  Cut the recipe in half for practice if you are nervous.  But remember, it's basically flour and water, don't stress too much if it doesn't come out perfect the first time.  I've been making dough like this since I was 14 or 15.  I know it wasn't always spot on when I started; practice makes perfect.
Rosemary & Olive Oil Whole Wheat Focaccia
2 1/2 C whole wheat flour
2 pkg active dry yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more
2 1/2 C very warm water
1 tsp salt
4-5 C AP or Better for Bread flour
sea salt

   In a very large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, sugar, 1 Tbsp evoo, and yeast.  Mix in water.  Allow to proof for 5 minutes.
   Add 1 C flour and salt, mix.  Mix in flour in 1 C increments until it forms a ball that isn't too sticky.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes.  Add flour as needed so it doesn't stick to your hands or counter.  (Divide dough in half to knead if it is too cumbersome as one unit.)
   Cut dough in half and place into two bowls that have been oiled with extra virgin olive oil.  Spread a little oil over the tops of the dough.  Cover bowls with a warm, damp towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
   With evoo, oil two 13x9 baking pans.  Transfer dough to pans and use your finger tips to spread into the whole pan.  You want those little tears and divots in the dough, so don't try to make it smooth.  Sprinkle the tops with sea salt and rosemary and just a little bit more olive oil.  Allow to rise again in a warm place for 1-1 1/2 hours.
   Bake at 425 deg F for 17-20 minutes until bottoms are golden and dough is cooked through.
   Serves 12 or more (just depending on your spread.)

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