Rosemary Focaccia Bread

There is an Italian restaurant at home that my family always went to growing up.  Their Caesar salad is divine and they have an unbelievable pasta dish: porcini mushroom tortellini with a mushroom cream sauce.  In addition to their amazing main dishes, this restaurant also serves homemade focaccia bread at the beginning of every meal.  It is dense, salty, and perfectly seasoned.

Like so many other recipes that I have made, I went on a quest to replicate the bread from this restaurant.  Waiting for my yearly trip home to Boston just wasn’t cutting it.  After some research, I came across this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

Make sure to start well in advance of when you need this dough, the rising process takes a while.  While the process is a little time consuming, it is easy enough and well worth the wait!!  Promise.  When I made it I had also made my Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce.  Two of my girlfriends and I downed 2 loaves of this bread with a little bowl of the tomato sauce!

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Biga

  • 1/2cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3cup (2 2/3 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1/4teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
Dough
  • 2 1/2cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for shaping
  • 1 1/4cups (10 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
  • 1teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • Kosher salt
  • 4tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  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). 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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