IN THE KITCHEN – ROSEMARY FOCACCIA

RECIPE BY DANIELLE FRENCH


IG – @SOUTHPONDHOME


SOUTH POND FARMS


PONTYPOOL, ONTARIO


PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASH NAYLER

“I BELIEVE BREAD IS A FUNDAMENTAL TRADITION AND A CORNERSTONE OF GOOD MEALS.

IN SOME FORM, IT IS PART OF EVERY CULTURE — LEAVENED OR UNLEAVENED, FRIED OR BAKED, FLAT OR FORMED INTO LOAVES. MADE WITH WHOLESOME GRAINS, BREAD IS ALSO AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR NUTRITION.”

Or at least that is what our good friend Danielle tells us, and we couldn’t agree more – So because we love this recipe so much, we are sharing it with you! 

We originally shared this recipe in our Fall Premier Issue of the Trailblazher Magazine, but since our very first issue sold out, we still wanted to share it with the rest of you! So without further ado, happy cooking and ENJOY!

Besides being easy to make, focaccia dough is versatile. You can use it to make flat breads and pizza and you can freeze it. You can make it the night before you need it — the dough only gets better the longer it is left to rise (air bubbles enhance the loaf). Julia Child said that when you push the dough down, you should be able to hear it squeak as the air bubbles pop, and that is a good thing.

Top your focaccia bread with anything you like. Our favourite is rosemary with a liberal amount of coarse salt. Add thinly sliced onions and a drizzle of olive oil. Press olives or cranberries into the dough, or add other herbs like chives or thyme. Consider it a clean palette, and add whatever colour you wish – The best thing about this dish is that you can really make it your own, any flavours you want to add in or leave out, you can!

This bread is not a high-rise bread. I cut it into strips and spread it with butter, dip it in olive oil infused with a few herbs, or mop up the sauce from the braised beef (a recipe you can find in another post in our blog). Fall Braised Beef and Rosemary Focaccia, the perfect combo!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

5 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp quick-rising (instant) yeast

2 tsp kosher salt

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 1⁄2 cups water (more or less), at room temperature

TOPPING:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp dried rosemary or 3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary Coarse sea salt, to taste

In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, stir together flour, yeast, and salt. Add olive oil and stir it into the flour mixture. While stirring, gradually add just enough water to make a loose (or shaggy) dough. Stir well. At this point the dough needs to be mixed enough that you can handle it with your hands. It should not be so wet that you can’t touch it.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until it is smooth and elastic. If it is too moist, you can add flour about a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. Ideally, when you pull the dough apart it should stretch without breaking — this may take up to 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour or water as necessary. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 1 hour (or ideally overnight). The dough should be light and airy, fluffy to the touch, with lots of bubbles. I prefer letting the dough rest overnight as it yields a lighter bread, full of holes, once baked.

When ready to bake, gently knead the dough once or twice, being careful not to push all the air out, and flatten the dough gently with your palms, shaping it into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Transfer the dough to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Fold it in half lengthwise. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rise for about an hour (or until doubled in size).

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Using a sharp knife, score the dough crosswise in 2-inch intervals and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine oil and rosemary. Using a pastry brush, brush mixture evenly over top of the dough. Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until it is brown on top and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it.

Transfer focaccia to a wire rack and let it cool until you are ready to eat it. Enjoy!

Let us know if you try out this recipe – it would be perfect for the upcoming holiday season!

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