After many weeks of procrastinating, I made my first bread, and after tasting this Rosemary Parmesan Focaccia, I don’t know why I waited so long.
Guys, I did it. I started the Great Bread Adventure of 2017. It took me a while 1) to read the beginning chapters of Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and 2) to gain the courage to actually start baking. If you’ve never done it, bread baking often takes a long time. I knew this Rosemary Parmesan Focaccia would take about a day to make, and I didn’t want to mess it up. Thanks to my fairy bread father, Peter Reinhart, it came out darn near perfect.
If you’re intimidated by bread baking, like I was, focaccia is great to start with. It doesn’t require a proof box or any fancy shaping techniques.
It does, however, require a lot of time, so make sure you set aside an afternoon to hang at the house. I personally started binging Jane The Virgin while I made this focaccia. And in case you were wondering, I’m solidly #TeamMichael, but I digress.
Reinhart outlines the bread making process in 12 stages. I’ll probably go into detail on all 12 steps in a later post, but since focaccia is such an easy bread, the only stage we really need to talk about is the mixing stage.
The primary goal of the mixing stage is to develop gluten. In most recipes, it will list a time range to mix your dough for, but how do you really know you’ve developed enough gluten?
You can check for gluten development, by taking a golf ball size ball of dough and slowly stretching it thin. If when you start to stretch the dough it quickly tears and breaks, then it needs to mix longer. However, if it creates a thin, translucent window pane of dough, like in the picture above, then your dough is ready.
This is something that you get the feel for the more you do it, so check your dough often throughout the mixing process to see how it develops. I was taught this trick in pastry school and again by Reinhart, and so far, it has never led me astray. It won’t let you down either.
After mixing, you’re in for several steps of hurry up and wait. Some quick stretch and folds with lots of resting in between. Did I mention that despite its insane premise, Jane the Virgin is an awesome show?
At the end of all the folding, resting, and Jane the Virgin watching, the dough will eventually swell and look like this.
Sorry for the dodgy photo. The sun had gone down by now. Like I said, focaccia takes a while to make.
Speaking of taking a while, the next step is to transfer the dough to a sheet pan where you dimple the dough and brush it with herb oil before letting it ferment overnight in the fridge.
We’re back to pretty lighting, so it must be morning! The dough is really starting to look like focaccia. One last ferment at room temp and this baby is ready to go in the oven.
One note on the herb oil that you see on top of the dough. Reinhart has a general recipe, but this is really where you can get creative. I chose to go heavy on the garlic and extra heavy on the rosemary because YUM.
About 5 minutes before the bread came out of the oven, I covered it with grated parmesan and chopped rosemary, but again you can change the toppings to your taste. However, I must say these toppings were insanely tasty.
Guys, we did it. We got through our first bread post. I’m happy to say that baking this Parmesan Rosemary Focaccia made me really excited to tackle the rest of the book. If you have any requests of which bread I should take on next let me know in comments!
- 5 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 6 Tbs olive oil
- 2 cups water, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cup shredded parmesan
- 1 ½ Tbs minced, fresh rosemary
- ½ cup herb oil, in notes
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together flour, salt and yeast. Add oil and water and mix until everything comes together in a wet sticky ball.
- Switch to your dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough will pull completely away from the sides but will still stick to the bottom. If the dough is overly sticky after 7 minutes, sprinkle in additional flour a tablespoon or two at a time. If you want to check for a gluten window, do it now.
- Sprinkle flour on a large cutting board and transfer the dough to the board. Pat into a rectangle about 6 inches wide. Dust top with flour and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Cover your hands with flour, and stretch the dough longways from each end until twice its size. Then fold it over itself like a letter, so it returns to its original shape. Spray top with cooking spray, sprinkle with flour, loosely cover with cling wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Repeat the previous step and, again, let rest for 30 minutes.
- Repeat the stretch and fold step on more time and let the dough rest for 1 hour.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment. Grease the parchment with olive oil. Transfer dough to pan, keeping the rectangular shape as much as possible.
- Spoon half of the herb oil on top of the dough. Using the tips of your fingers, dimple the dough as you simultaneously spread the dough to fill the pan. Try to keep the thickness as even as possible but only use your fingertips. It’s okay if it doesn’t stretch all the way to pan’s edge.
- Make sure that the entire surface is covered in oil and add more oil if it’s not. Loosely wrap the entire pan in cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and drizzle the rest of the oil on top. Again, dimple the dough with your fingertips as you spread the dough and fill the pan. The dough should be about ½ inch thick. Cover the pan again, and allow to rest on the counter for 3 hours. The dough should rise to about 1 inch thick in that time.
- Preheat the oven to 500F with the rack on the middle shelf.
- Place the pan in the oven and lower the temperature to 450F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes or until the bread turns a light golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle parmesan and rosemary on top. Return to oven for 5 more minutes. The dough will look golden and cheese will have melted.
- Remove from oven and immediately transfer dough off of the parchment and onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before diving in.
Herb Oil: ½ cup olive oil; 2 Tbs minced, fresh rosemary; 1 ½ tsp salt; ¼ tsp pepper; 3 cloves garlic, crushed
Warm olive oil to 100F. Remove from heat and whisk in the remaining ingredients.