Rosemary Focaccia from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2012

I’ve been to Italy twice.

The first time I was in high school and took advantage of a trip to the Middle East that my Dad led with the college at which he taught. We were in Rome for a few days and my memories are of dirtiness, men pinching my behind and the most amazing chocolate ice cream (I know, I know; but back then I actually liked it).

The second time was with Hubby. We didn’t hit southern Italy, but instead wended our way from Milan to Venice and back again. We were enthralled with everything; the people, the food, the buildings, the beauty, the food. We dreamed about buying a gorgeous estate that we would get for a song because it needed renovations (yeah, we had seen Under the Tuscan Sun), strolling to the market to buy fresh foods, learning Italian so we could speak the the ever-friendly locals and having the dream life everyone wants.

When we arrived back home, I proceeded to try to become an Italian cook. I learned dish after dish; worked on perfecting my sauces. I watched Italian chefs (Mario Batali) cook so I could learn from them.

But in all that time and with everything I made, I never once ventured near focaccia.

Until today.

The Process

Since I’ve never made this type of bread, I have nothing with which to compare it. But, I’m pretty sure that the no-knead version isn’t used much by Italian bakers. In this version, it’s used. So, where you’d normally spend some elbow grease, instead you need to prepare to spend time. Lots of time.

If you’re good at planning, preparing the biga happens the night before so it can ferment and bubble up overnight. Biga? Huh? It’s like sourdough starter, but drier and used with Italian breads like focaccia and ciabatta.

I’m not very good at planning, but worked really hard to remember this because I knew that the good part of the next day would be given over to the rest of the process. You see, even though there’s no kneading, once the dough is started, here’s what happens.

Mix dough; let rise 15 minutes
Sprinkle salt, mix; let rise 30 minutes
Fold dough; let rise 30 minutes
Fold dough; let rise 30 minutes
Fold dough; let rise 30 minutes
Shape dough; let rest 5 minutes
Poke dough; let rest 10 minutes

You need to know in advance that making this recipe requires being at home for three hours straight, with the freedom to break free from whatever you’re doing so you can mix, sprinkle, fold, shape, poke and bake.

As far as difficulty; it’s not tough at all. The instructions are easy to follow and there are very few ingredients, and just one bowl. The one bowl thing is a huge plus.

The Verdict

If you have the time to commit to the process, the bread is worth the effort. Do you see the holes in the bread up there? That’s what your after, and the recipe delivers. I don’t know what focaccia is supposed to be like, but I found this to be a firm, chewy, tasty bread. I enjoyed piece after piece after piece.

Dudette saw green stuff (the rosemary) and wanted nothing to do with it. Hubby loved it, especially warmed up. It would be fantastic with a dipping oil.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I can’t think of anything.

Rosemary Focaccia from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2012
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Source:
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Biga
  • ½ cup (2½ ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup water, heated to 110 degrees
  • ¼ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • Dough
  • 2½ cups (12½ ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for counter)
  • 1¼ cups water, heated to 110 degrees
  • 1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
Directions
  1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.) Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe.)
  2. FOR THE DOUGH: Stir flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 turns).
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.
  5. Gently transfer dough to lightly floured counter. Lightly dust top of dough with flour and divide in half. Shape each piece of dough into 5-inch round by gently tucking under edges. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Sprinkle each pan with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Place round of dough in pan, top side down; slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides, then flip over. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.) Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Sprinkle rosemary evenly over top of dough. Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Place pans on baking stone and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until tops are golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes, switching placement of pans halfway through baking. Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and return to wire rack. Brush tops with any oil remaining in pan. Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

 

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3 Responses to Rosemary Focaccia from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2012

  1. Pingback: The Sunday Sip ~ Tae Kwon Do, Spring and Dish of the Week | Taking On Magazines One Recipe at a TimeTaking On Magazines One Recipe at a Time

  2. Tricia says:

    I make this recipe at least once a month- it is a family favorite. Don't be intimidated – it does take a while to make, but it is not difficult. There is a video on YouTube from the TV show that is worth watching. I typically substitute the rosemary for dried basil, thyme and oregano. I often make a double batch – it freezes well.

    • Hi Tricia … I like the idea of doubling the batch and think I'll give it a go again. It's been a while since I made it and we did love it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts (I definitely like the idea of swapping out the herbs).

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