I subscribe to a bunch of cooking magazines and now that Fall is upon us, they all seem to be featuring focaccia. More specifically, zucchini focaccia. I’m not sure why that is, but open any food magazine and I swear that’s what you’ll see.
I was holding off on making any but then over the weekend America’s Test Kitchen on PBS aired an episode featuring Rosemary Focaccia and that pushed me over the edge.
I’m not a big fan of rosemary — I think it tastes like pine — but I L-O-V-E bread! What I ended up doing is using ATK’s recipe for focaccia and adding my own toppings.
Not surprisingly, ATK’s focaccia is quite detailed and time-consuming. You need to start by making a biga (a starter yeast) the night before you actually begin making the dough. The actual dough, however, requires very little muscle. Most of the time is spent on letting the dough rest, so this is a fantastic recipe for beginner bakers, like me, who don’t have fancy bread machines or electric mixers. Everything can be done by hand.
For my first focaccia, I topped it with caramelized onions and oregano. I wish I had remembered to take pictures because, let me tell you, it looked and tasted delicious. It was nice and crusty on the outside, but the inside was light and fluffy. I’ve had some terrible focaccia that felt like a dense, heavy, brick of bread and it would stale and feel even heavier the next day. Not so with this recipe. It was still just as good the day after.
I think you can tell by looking inside the bread and seeing all the air pockets that this bread is really light and fluffy. I literally ate one whole focaccia in less than 10 minutes.
Yesterday, I made more focaccia. This week, lots of stores had zucchini on sale so I made Korean panackes with zucchini, zucchini bread, and zucchini focaccia. Believe me, I have zucchini coming out of my ears! It’s a good thing I love zucchini.
I was worried about the zucchini not cooking fully in the oven, so I sliced them thin. Apparently, a little too thin because some of them ended up close to burning. Next time I’ll remember to slice them thicker. But aside from charring the zucchini, the bread came out great, actually even better than the first time!
If you want to make bread, use this recipe. I like it so much I’m going to share the America’s Test Kitchen recipe with all of you. You must try it!
Makes two 9-inch round loaves
If you don’t have a baking stone, bake the bread on an overturned, preheated rimmed baking sheet set on the upper-middle oven rack. The bread can be kept for up to 2 days well wrapped at room temperature or frozen for 2 months wrapped in foil and placed in a zipper-lock bag.
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2 2/3 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for shaping
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons 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.
As a side note, the recipe uses kosher salt. If you’re like me and only have table salt at home, simply use half the amount listed in the recipe. Table salt is a lot finer and saltier than kosher salt so you’ll want to use less of it.