First, a co-worker gave me some beautiful fresh rosemary from her garden, and I wanted to use it not just in an herb rub on a meat (my usual go-to for fresh herbs), but in a way to bring out that earthy, piney, fresh flavor.
So, I flipped through my America's Test Kitchen Baking Book (what else would I use?) and settled on focaccia since I'd never made it before. I did end up having to wait until I got back from the store to make this, since there is a potato (yes, a potato) in this recipe and we don't keep potatoes around. Garlic and onions, of course, but no potatoes.
|That's the shredded potato in the measuring cup on the bottom right.|
And now it's time for Gloria's Crackpot Cooking Feelings: I don't think you should use the stand mixer to make breads. Yes, the mixer comes with a dough hook, and maybe if you're making a bread with a very wet dough, it is easier to handle, but the times that I've made dough in the stand mixer, the final product comes out too tough. I think if you're new to bread, then sure, go for it, but it is so much better if you get a feel for dough, and what a dough that has been perfectly kneaded looks and feels like. Plus, I heard this lady on a podcast, and she's firmly in the "by hand" camp.
Back to the bread.
It's just flour, yeast, the potato water from the boiled potato, 1 cup of the boiled potato grated, salt, and olive oil. It's a pretty easy dough and it comes together quickly. Just a few quick kneads, and it was in the bowl resting.
After about an hour, the dough was ready to go and be spread in the baking sheet. More olive oil and then I gently pressed the dough out. It went pretty easily to the corners, but I did give it a few minutes to rest to really get it all the way to the edges.
An hour and a half later it was risen to size and I got to do the fun part of digging my fingers into it. The book doesn't tell you to get rough with it, but Anne Burrell on her show said that you can be pretty tough with this bread. I really dug in there, and the holes will come together if you happen to get to the the bottom of the pan. Then I sprinkled the fresh rosemary all over and popped it in the oven.
Twenty minutes later, I had crispy, beautiful focaccia. I had to wait 10 minutes before I sprinkled it with sea salt and could dig in. It was definitely tender, flavorful, and amazing. I've been oversalting my food lately, so I held back on the salt, but I would say next time that I could really go for it. And I will definitely try a more traditional recipe next time. Nevertheless, this was worth it and I will make it again.