Guest Post: Rosemary Pecorino Focaccia by Does Not Cook Well With Others

After a week of CHOmazing recipes it’s time for me to take a break! Coleen from Does Not Cook Well With Others is taking over for me today. I figured that you would be in good hands after seeing her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes, since all you need is for me to find one peanut butter and chocolate recipe on your blog and we become best friends! Of course others such as her White Chocolate Ice Cream with Raspberry Swirl, Island Burgers with Pineapple Lime-Salsa, and French Toast Casserole look mighty fine as well.

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Hi, I’m Coleen, the blogger behind Does Not Cook Well With Others. I’m a 30-something mother of one, dog-owner, and professional graphic designer living in Philadelphia, PA. I love to cook, bake, and eat! This is my first time guest-posting on another blog, so I hope you enjoy it!

I’ve always loved to bake. I briefly considered applying to Johnson & Wales after high school, but listened to my mother and got a degree in Digital Arts instead. After working a few years for a publisher of legal newsletters, I enrolled in a local culinary school. Have you ever heard that, while planning her own wedding, every bride decides she wants to change careers and be a wedding planner? I wanted to be a wedding cake decorator.

Except, in culinary school, I discovered my strength was in bread-baking. I love kneading, shaping, and baking the dough. My first internship was at a bread bakery, where we made baguettes, brioche, ciabatta, flavored breads, and focaccia. Focaccia is an Italian flatbread made with oil, and topped with herbs and/or other flavorings. The toppings we used at the bakery were caramelized onions, thinly-sliced tomatoes, and my favorite, chopped fresh rosemary.

If I remembered to write down the recipe, I’ve since lost it, likely during one of the three times I’ve moved. Luckily, Peter Reinhart’s focaccia from his book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice comes very close to the focaccia I remember from the bakery. It bakes up light and fluffy, with a slightly chewer outer crust. The amount of oil makes it moist, but not greasy.

I also love this recipe because it uses instant yeast instead of active dry yeast. Instant yeast does not need to be proofed in warm water (which is where most people kill their yeast with too-warm water) so it’s almost fool-proof to work with. I ordered a large package of SAF-brand instant yeast from King Arthur Flour, whose site said that the yeast should keep at least a year stored in a plastic container in the freezer. My yeast is going on four years old and still going strong.

I use my favorite topping of chopped fresh rosemary (the aroma of chopped rosemary scented my entire apartment and lingered for hours – it was awesome!), and I add freshly grated Pecorino cheese for a subtle nutty flavor, just because I happened to have some in the fridge. Pecorino is a hard Italian cheese made from sheep’s milk. It’s very similar in texture and flavor to Parmesan. Omit the cheese if you’d like, or use Parmesan if that’s what you have on hand.

I’ve included both weight and volume measurements below. I prefer to bake by weight because it’s more accurate, and I find it faster to measure. I think my kitchen scale gets as much as use my wooden spoons, pots, and pans.

Rosemary Pecorino Focaccia

Source: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (P. Reinhart)

Yield: 12 (4-inch by 4.25-inch squares)

 

Ingredients

1 pound 6 1/2 ounces (5 cups) bread flour

1/2 ounce (2 tsp) table salt

1/4 ounce (2 tsp) instant yeast

3 ounces (6 tbsp) olive oil, plus 1/2 cup to 1 cup more

1 pound (2 cups) room temperature water

3 to 4 sprigs of rosemary

1/3 cup grated pecorino cheese

Directions

  1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer by stirring on low speed with the paddle attachment.
  2. Combine the 6 tbsp of oil and the water and gradually add to the flour while the mixer is stirring on low speed.
  3. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a soft, sticky ball while still sticking to the bottom of the mixing bowl. If it does not, add about 2 more tbsp of bread flour at a time, mixing on medium speed with the dough hook, until this happens.
  4. Sprinkle some flour in a 6-inch by 6-inch square on a clean work surface, and scrape the dough onto the floured surface. Gently pat into a small rectangle and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Spread more flour around the rectangle. Gently stretch out the dough to make the rectangle twice its original size.
  6. Make a letter fold: take about one-third of the dough and fold it in toward the middle. Then take the opposite side, and fold it in toward the middle, as if you were folding a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, spray with nonstick cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  7. Repeat step 6 two more times, after the third fold letting the dough rest for one hour.
  8. While the dough is resting, remove the leaves from the rosemary stems. Discard the stems, and coarsley chop the leaves. Set aside.
  9. Pour about half a cup of olive oil in a 12×18-inch baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to spread it evenly in the pan. Use a scraper, spatula, or your hands, gently move the dough to the pan, keeping the rectangle shape as intact as possible.
  10. Using only your finger tips, dimple the dough to deflate the air bubbles and simultaneously push the dough out toward the edges and corners to fill the pan, being careful not to rip the dough. If the dough starts shrinking back toward the middle, let it sit for 5 minutes before continuing.
  11. Drizzle another 1/2 cup of olive oil over the dough and sprinkle the rosemary leaves evenly over the dough. Cover the entire sheet pan in plastic wrap (or place in a food-safe plastic storage bag) and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 3 days.
  12. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 3 hours before you plan to bake it, leaving the plastic wrap in place.
  13. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Move a rack to the middle of the oven.
  14. Remove the plastic wrap, and place the pan in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 450 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes.
  15. Rotate than pan 180 degrees, to ensure even baking in case your oven has hot or cold spots. Bake another 5 to 10 minutes.
  16. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle the cheese evenly over the bread, and bake another 5 minutes, just until the cheese begins to brown.
  17. Remove the pan from the oven, and immediately transfer the bread to a cooling rack (the bottom will get soggy if it cools in the pan). Let cool at least 20 minutes.
  18. Slice the bread into 4-inch by 4.5-inch slices. If not eating immediately, wrap in plastic wrap and store in a cool, dry place.

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