Are you new to bread baking? This scrumptious focaccia is a great place to start, and so is my easy pizza dough recipe. My popular Farmhouse White is a basic white sandwich bread that's perfect for beginners. You might also find my Ten Tips on How To Bake Better Artisan Breads at Home helpful.
Homemade focaccia goes with almost everything—or just enjoy it alone.
Focaccia is a delicious, easy to make, versatile Italian flatbread that for some reason I had never made—or eaten!—until just a few years ago. I tried my friend Stephen's rosemary focaccia recipe while working on an article about bread and fell in love at first bite.
Basically a cross between a thick pizza crust and bread, focaccia makes fun burgers or sandwiches but is also nice eaten on its own or alongside a meal.
There are countless focaccia flavors and toppings, from the basic olive oil and sprinkling of salt variety to complicated tomato, onion, potato, herb, vegetable, and cheese topped versions that turn it into more of a thick crust pizza.
Recipe below. . .
Lamb burgers with rosemary, shallots, and feta on focaccia 'buns' (recipe here)
I love this simple rosemary rendition, especially as a 'bun' for lamb burgers. Stephen warned me that focaccia purists may scoff at his quick recipe, which shaves hours off the traditional resting times, but I couldn't stop eating it.
The olive oil gives the bread a nice texture and pleasant taste. I reduced the yeast from four teaspoons to just one and added a little dry white wine to the dough, but you can always substitute more water instead. The optional sprinkling of Pecorino Romano or Parmesan on top adds flavor and looks pretty, too.
Freshly picked rosemary is a wonderful little luxury. We had a huge rosemary bush in our Northern California backyard when I was a kid, but my attempts at growing it here in Missouri over the years have been pretty disappointing. I managed to kill two more plants this year, but I haven't given up—rosemary goes too well with lamb and it costs too much to buy those little 'fresh' packets at the store.
Want to try growing your own rosemary? You might find this post on my kitchen garden blog helpful: Herbs In and Out of the Garden: Tips for Growing & Using Rosemary.
Are you a fellow focaccia fan? What's your favorite way to make it or enjoy it? If you've written about focaccia on your own blog, you're welcome to include a link to your post in your comment.
With cheese on the left, no cheese on the right.
Farmgirl Susan's Easy Rosemary Focaccia
Makes 2 large — Adapted from Stephen Cooks
Stephen mixes his dough in a food processor, but I found it easier (and safer for my fingers) to simply knead it by hand.
I can fit two ovals—but not two rounds—on my rectangular baking stone at one time. If you can only bake one focaccia at a time, set the other one in a cool place or in the refrigerator while the first one bakes; or you can always cut the recipe in half.
If you don't have a baking/pizza stone (they make the best pizza and bread!), bake your focaccia on a heavy duty baking sheet. I've been using the heck out of some of my commercial rimmed baking sheets for 20 years for everything from baking scones to roasting Brussels sprouts.
I've never had good luck using those little packets of yeast, and they're pricey. Instead I buy instant yeast in inexpensive 1-pound packages and store it in a jar in the freezer, where it will keep for at least a year.
If you bake a lot of pizzas, focaccia, and other free form breads, a pizza peel makes loading them in and out of the oven a breeze. I use both wood and metal peels in various sizes but find the largest ones to be the most useful.
Forming your bread or pizza on a piece of unbleached parchment paper will keep your dough from sticking to the peel. Just slide the dough and the parchment right into the oven. I also line my baking sheets with it.
4 to 6 cups organic bread flour, sometimes called high gluten flour (all-purpose flour will work, too)
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1½ cups barely warm water
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on top
1/3 cup dry white wine (or water)
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2 teaspoons salt
Few handfuls freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan, optional
Combine 4 cups of flour and the yeast in a large bowl. Stir in the water and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms, adding a little more flour if necessary.
Cover with a damp tea towel and let rest 20 minutes.
Mix in the olive oil, white wine (or extra water), 2 Tablespoons of the rosemary, and salt. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and knead for 7 to 8 minutes, sprinkling with just enough flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface and hands.
Place the dough in a food grade, straight sided plastic container with a snap on lid and let it rise until doubled, about 1 to 1½ hours. The ideal temperature for rising bread dough is 70° to 75°F. I check the temperature of my dough and ingredients using a $5 instant read thermometer. Cooler is fine; it'll just take a little longer and your bread will taste a little better.
After 30 minutes, place a baking stone in the oven and heat to 450°. (Never put a cold baking stone in a hot oven.)
Scrape the dough out of the container onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two balls. Place the dough balls on pieces of unbleached parchment paper and flatten each one into a disk or oval about 1/2" thick.
Generously drizzle the dough with olive oil and use your fingers to spread it evenly, then dimple the dough all over with the pads of your fingers and scatter the remaining 2 Tablespoons of rosemary and the Pecorino Romano over it.
Cover the focaccia with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for about 30 minutes, or until the dough springs back slowly when you press a finger into it.
Slide the focaccia onto the hot baking stone (I use a pizza peel) and bake 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375° and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden.
Cool on a wire rack 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Focaccia is best when eaten the same day it's baked, but it freezes beautifully.
Still have more flour and yeast left? There's a category devoted to yeast breads in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.
© FarmgirlFare.com, where Farmgirl Susan shares recipes, stories, and photos from her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres—and life revolves around baking bread.