Sunday, February 21, 2010

*Successful* Rosemary Focaccia Bread

I made bread! I made bread! I made bread! Sorry for the outburst, but after two previous fails at making bread, that is about what I sounded like as various steps of this recipe worked correctly this time (just ask my roommate, I'm sure it was amusing). I used one of the recipes I was working with the first time around, and I'm not entirely sure what made the difference, but something worked out this time and I had a beautiful loaf of chewy, delicious carbs.

After the last fiasco, I asked anyone and everyone for suggestions and ideas on what could possibly have gone wrong. I knew the yeast was fresh, so we could take that out of the equation- which pretty much left me with stupid human error. My dad recommended using distilled water, as on any given day there can be enough chlorine in Iowa City tap water to kill yeast (it's unclear how much the Britta filter helps), so I dutifully bought a jug of distilled water on my way home. This time around, my yeast sprang to life -- look at all of those happy bubbles!!

The other suggestion I got was from my friend Jo. Her family made bread all the time when we were young and never had problems with it because - get this - they let it raise in her mom's water bed. So... I followed her instructions and tucked my ball of dough into my bed to rise... and it did!

Granted, my bed smelled a little bit odd for the rest of the weekend, but I suppose that's the trade-off for homemade bread, at least until I figure out a better way to do things. The recipe was all around very simple but be aware of the rising times built into it- they made an excellent study schedule for me but it does take a little more work than throwing stuff into a bread maker and switching it "on". Also, don't be afraid to experiment with different spice variations -- throw some parsley or sage, fresh cheese, thinly sliced olives, onions or sun-dried tomatoes onto it, whatever floats your boat!

Rosemary Focaccia Bread, adapted from
2 hours, 1.5 hours prep

1 (1/4oz) package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water, plus 1/4 cup water to add as needed
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
6 Tbs olive oi
2 Tbs chopped rosemary
*course salt to sprinkle over top

1. Dissolve yeats in 1/2 cup of the warm water (this means <100ºF so you don't kill them!), with ~1tsp sugar so they have some food. Let sit 10 minutes until bubbly.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast mixture and remaining water.
3. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon, then using your hands.
4. Transfer to a floured work surface and kneed by hand for a few minutes, until smooth
*this is where I needed more water- it may not be the entire 1/4 cup, but use your judgment to add as needed
5. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled -- about 1/5 hours
*Preheat oven to 425ºF
6. Punch down and place on an oiled baking sheet, forming into an oval or circle
7. Dimple the top surface with your fingers, drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle the coarse salt and rosemary on top.
8. Bake about 20 minutes, until golden

No comments:

Post a Comment