Monday, June 13, 2011

Sun-dried Tomato, Asiago, Rosemary & Olive Oil Focaccia

I was trying to think of what I could make with local herbs and/or spices for the June Bread Baking Day, and for some reason, focaccia kept popping into my head.  However, maybe that's because I hadn't made a foccocia since last year and I have a large rosemary plant on my front porch just begging to be placed atop a tender focaccia.  I don't think rosemary is necessarily a local herb, but people here do love growing it and its especially popular here at Thanksgiving and Christmas on roasts and large birds. 

As I was contemplating the possibility of making focaccia, I realized the only focaccia I had made thus far was a bread machine recipe that I had made once.  I had never made focaccia from any other recipe.  This definitely needed remedied soon. 

Hubby and I had really loved the first focaccia I had made topped with rosemary, garlic, and kosher salt, but I wanted to top this one a little differently.  I love to peruse the breads in the bakery section of The Fresh Market, a gourmet grocery that has locations scattered all over the central and eastern part of the United States.  I don't ever buy their breads (way too expensive), but I get ideas on what I'd like to make at home.  I saw a basketful of focaccia last week and the variety that caught my attention was the sun-dried tomato, asiago, rosemary and olive oil one.  It looked soooooo good!  The perfect toppings.

The recipe for focaccia that I chose was from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion.  The recipe looked interesting to me because of its list of ingredients, which included potato flour and nonfat dry milk, and because of the first step in its preparation.  I knew that the inclusion of potato flour and nonfat dry milk would definitely yield tender results. 

The first step listed in the preparation of this focaccia was to mix hot water and flour together and beat for several minutes to develop a smooth batter.  Hmmm, I'd never mixed boiling water and flour together before for a dough.  I wanted to give it a try.  When I did this, it didn't necessarily seem to me like a batter, but more like a paste:

It didn't look like much in the bowl, certainly not very appetizing.  I decided to cut the recipe in half so 1 cup of boiling water and 1 cup of flour didn't amount to much.  I added almost an 1/8 tsp of yeast to the batter (paste) and let it sit on the counter for 4 hours.  This was to develop flavor in the finished focaccia, as well as a soft interior texture.  After the four hours though,  it looked pretty much the same.  I had thought it would swell quite a bit, but it only got very slightly puffy.

Next, whisk potato flour with the remaining flour, dry milk, yeast, and salt.  I added this to the batter/paste, while beating it together and then put in 1 Tbsp of olive oil.  I beat this a little more by hand, which was hard, because it was so stiff and thick.  I put it into my stand mixer bowl and used the dough hook on medium speed for at least 10 minutes.  It seemed like I was adding alot of extra flour to the dough to get it to come together.  The directions didn't say what the finished dough consistency should be like, so I just had to hope I was doing this thing right.  Here's my dough after kneading and placing in a lightly greased bowl.

I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise on the counter for 30 minutes.  The dough increased by about one third and looked puffy.  I then pulled the sides of the dough up and over in a folding motion (while keeping the dough in the bowl).  I did this several times to release some of the gas, and then I let the dough rise for another 30 minutes. 

I drizzled 1 tablespoon of olive oil into my 8 inch round pan and smeared it around a bit.  I placed the dough into the pan, gently stretching it to fit, covered, and let rest for 30 minutes.  Stretched it a little more to fit the pan and then preheated the oven to 400°. 

Just before sliding the focaccia into the oven, I dimpled it with my fingertips, brushed it with a little olive oil, and topped it with my sun-dried tomato, asiago, rosemary, and just a pinch of kosher salt.
I had meant to put some of the sun-dried tomatoes inside the dough, but I kind of forgot.  Into the 400° oven it went.  In only about 10 minutes, I could smell the melting asiago from the upstairs landing.  I could hardly wait for it to finish baking.  It took about 25 minutes before the focaccia was a nice deep, golden brown all over. 

I don't know if the folding of the dough was correct or if I dimpled it properly, but who cares after it comes out of the oven looking like this:
Ahhhhh, it smelled sooooo good.  I'm glad I had made a light dinner of 1 fish fillet (that we split) and rice, because we each had a quarter of this and we highly considered consuming the entire thing, it was that good.  Here's one of the quarters,

Tender Focaccia
yields two 8-inch round or one 12- to 14- inch round focaccia

2 cups (16 ounces) boiling water
3 3/4 cups (16 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) potato flour, or 1/3 cup (3/4 ounce) potato flakes
1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) nonfat dry milk
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus
2 to 3 tablespoons to grease the pan and the surface of the dough

Well, it wasn't very creative or elaborate, but it was what I decided to do for this month's bread baking day.  I will however, continue to try to experiment with my fresh herbs over the next few months in some more breads. 

BBD #41 - 4th anniversary editon - bread with herbs (last day of submission July 1, 2011)If you'd like to participate in bread baking day   #41, hurry and get baking your bread with local herbs and/or spices and go to My Discovery of Bread, the host, to get the details of how to submit your bread.


  1. That looks beautiful, Mel! I love focaccia, but haven't made it in quite a while...your post makes me want to rush home and bake one right now. (If you ever have a chance, I absolutely LOVE the focaccia in the BBA!)

  2. Thank you Melanie, this looks so delicious. Peter, my husband, wanted to take a bite from your beautiful Focaccia. Thanks for baking with us. Connie of