The rosemary steeps in boiling water; be sure to let it cool to 100° to 110° before adding the yeast so your dough will rise correctly. Sea salt and kosher salt have larger crystals than regular salt, so either adds a nice crunch to the top of the focaccia bread. But be sure to use regular salt in the dough for best results. You don't need to use all of the egg and oil mixture on top of the dough; spread enough to coat the top, and discard any extra. Use remaining bread for sandwiches, or cut into 1/2-inch cubes and bake at 350° for 15 minutes (or until toasted) to make croutons for salads.
1 1/4 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1 tablespoon honey
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
How to Make It
Combine boiling water, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and honey in a large bowl; cool to 100° to 110°. Sprinkle yeast over honey mixture; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 3 1/4 cups flour, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon salt to honey mixture, stirring to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down. Pat dough into a 14 x 12-inch rectangle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350º.
Uncover dough. Make indentations in top of dough using handle of a wooden spoon or your fingertips. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon water, and egg yolk; brush over dough. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with remaining rosemary and sea salt.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.
I tried this using all white whole wheat flour, and it turned out better than I expected. Getting the texture right has been a challenge with whole-grain focaccias, but this may be a keeper. I added the warm liquid to half the flour mixed with the yeast and let it sponge for 20 minutes to soften the bran particles, then proceeded with the rest of the recipe. I also skipped the egg yolk and just drizzled the olive oil on top, letting it pool in the little dimples in the surface. A few times during baking I sprayed water on the sides and bottom of the oven to make the bread crisp on the outside. We ate this alongside CL Chicken and Strawberries over Mixed Greens with a glass of white wine. Like DisplacedTexan I have also found that focaccia doesn't store well, so I leave it in an open zip-top bag on the countertop to let it breathe, and we try to eat it within a few days.
This was my first time making yeast-based bread that has to be kneaded, and I was nervous--but it came out delicious! I think it's pretty hard to mess this one up. I skipped the egg wash and just brushed some olive oil on top. Also added thinly sliced red onion and green olives to half of it. It was restaurant quality. Mine took a little longer to bake--over 30 minutes to get it nice and golden. Will definitely make again--like that I didn't have to use a rolling pin--it spread out in my cookie sheet nicely just using my fingers.
I love this bread - and my DH always begs me to bake it. Has anyone had any luck with storing this bread for more than a day? It's so good when fresh, but by the second day, if there's any left, it's usually either dried out, or soggy if I store it in a bag. Would love to bake it ahead. I agree with another reviewer - don't try using bread flour, stick to all-purpose.
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