Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rosemary Focaccia after a hectic week!!!!

The past few weeks have been busy as sin at work!!! I know it's officially peak travel season which for us means more complaints, but good lord, I swear these days never end sometimes. Have I mentioned that I work in the complaints department for an airline? Oh yes... This is why the kitchen is my solace! On top of work itself being crazy, we've been super busy the last few weekends so weekends just haven't been weekends. Thankfully, I'm finally on vacation and am working on getting rid of my cold and resting up a bit. I've managed to make it up to my grandparents cottage and hope that a little bit of r & r will be just what the doctor ordered. In celebration of the long weekend that just passed (Happy Canada Day & Happy 4th of July to our neighbours down south) and all the fun that accompanied it, I thought I would share with you one of my latest joys!!

A few weeks back, after work on a Friday night, I booted it out of the office and rushed home to the kitchen. This is typical Friday night after work activity because truly it's my stress relieving place... my happy place... and the place where I'm in my own bubble and don't have to answer to anyone else. This week in particular rosemary focaccia was the only thing on my mind.

Photo Credit:
Pretty much, the background info on this book is that Cathy decided to stop eating out in restaurants for 2 years (with a few exceptions) and this book documents her return to the kitchen and  making her own food. I don't think I've officially mentioned it here yet but I'm looking to move into my own place this coming December and as such will need to cut back on my dinners out and truly get back into the groove of cooking more!! While I got a little sidetracked with the book, the principles are so very important to me. I know that it is lovely to head out and not have to cook or clean up, but there is something so fantastic about knowing every little thing (including your effort) that went into your meal. Cathy went a little farther into foraging in Central Park than I would probably ever venture, the message is clear regardless. I've taken from this book my love of farmer's markets and visiting farms (I do believe that's as close to foraging as this city gal will make it). 

Back to my culinary adventure! I've made rosemary foccacia before and I love it! As corny as it is to say, there is NOTHING better than fresh bread. Nothing! Not chocolate, not shopping, nothing! Now why I endeavoured to start this mission at 7pm on a Friday night may be beyond you but it truly was worth staying up late for. I found the recipe on the Pastry Affair, which is one of my favourite blogs to read. Her pictures are GORGEOUS and her recipes delicious!  This recipe is interesting because you start off without adding the herbs so the dough has a bit of rising time first before it gets deflated and herb-ified (yup, that's a word)!
It starts to grow...
Then it grows some more...
 Delicious dimply thigh resembling dough meet herbs. Herbs meet dimply thigh resembling dough.

The joy of focaccia is that it is airy and is full of air pockets which makes it that much more delicious and soft. Once I started mixing the herbs in, you can see how stringy and full of air the dough really is! This is what excites me in my day to day life - airy dough pockets!

 This bread is worth all of the resting and the time it takes to make it - Even if you are awake until midnight waiting for the bread to come out of the oven so you can try a piece! 

Sprinkled with black pepper, salt and olive oil before baking!

Hello! I'm gorgeous!!!! Just take a little bit. I know you wanna...
Here's the recipe:

Rosemary Focaccia
adapted from the Pastry Affair

4 1/2 to 5 cups all purpose flour
2 3/4 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling (I used pink Himalayan sea salt)
3 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary
1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil  
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together bread flour, water, and active dry yeast. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, dry place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough has tripled in volume and is bubbly.
  2. If using a stand mixer, attach dough hook and mix in salt and rosemary. Knead dough for an additional 5-7 minutes. Dough will be loose and sticky.
  3. If you do not have a stand mixer, turn dough out on a heavily floured surface and, using your hands or even a wooden spoon, attempt to knead the dough. Mix in salt and rosemary at this time. Add flour as needed and fold dough in half in all directions if it will not cooperate enough to knead. Dough will be very difficult to handle, but try to incorporate as little flour as possible (it results in a softer bread).
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour, or until doubled in volume.
  5. In a 13 by 17-inch rimmed baking pan, evenly distribute 2 tablespoons of olive oil to coat pan. Turn out down onto pan and, with oiled hands, pull dough to the edges of the pan. The dough may resist at first, but with a little patience it will stay put. Cover dough with a clean dish towel and allow to rise for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).
  7. Using your fingertips, poke a couple dozen holes into the top of the bread. Pour remaining olive oil evenly over bread and sprinkle with a light dusting of coarse sea salt, rosemary, and freshly cracked pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly in pan before serving warm or at room temperature.
I hope you all have the chance to make this recipe!!!!! 

Happy Baking!
Worth every second!

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