I’m relatively new to intense baking. I’ve baked a few cakes, cookies, and scones, but I’m still trying to forget that I had to restart the sugar cookies I baked for my brother’s 3rd grade class three times over because they kept tasting like baking soda. So there was that. But I didn’t give up, and neither should you! Because those who love bread shall one day succeed.
My mom is really into making Chinese steamed rolls and growing up, she’d throw flour, yeast, water, and oil together in the kitchen at least once a month. It looked really easy, but I was afraid to try something that seemed really complicated. Besides, it involved upper body strength. I didn’t have it then and if I told you that’s improved over the years, I’d just be lying. Of course, that’s before I believed that great food is 70% love and 30% hard labor.
Last night, ignoring the art project and the grant proprosals I have due, I strolled through the rain to Jake’s apartment. That sounds really nice doesn’t it? Because actually Jake’s apartment is one of the farthest places on campus from my dorm and I hate the rain, but I did it all so we could flip to the “Breads and Crackers” section of The Gourmet Cookbook, edited by none other than the fabulous Ruth Reichl, and get our bread on.
We picked rosemary focaccia for two reasons: it looked like it was really easy to make and we love rosemary.
Right off the bat we switched it up a bit with some whole wheat flour. Just as an experiment. I thought it was a good decision–it made our bread healthier and trust me, there was definitely no sacrifice in flavor. We probably could have let it rise more the first and second times, but the bread still came out great. The apartment smelled like a pizza oven. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Atticus started buying its bread from us. Just kidding.
Here’s the recipe we used, adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook:
1 3/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 tsp yeast
pinch of sugar
5 cups flour (3 cups all purpose, 2 cups whole wheat)
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil + 3 tablespoons
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary + thyme
1. mix warm water and yeast. allow to foam (approx 5 minutes). add pinch of sugar
2. mix in flour, salt, and 1/4 cup olive oil.
3. work dough until combined, then knead for approx 3 to 4 minutes. dough will be slightly sticky. add 1-2 tablespoons of dough and incorporate.
4. lightly oil a bowl and coat kneaded dough ball. cover and let rise for 1-1.5 hours.
5. oil a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. press risen dough into the oiled pan, cover, and let rise for another hour.
6. preheat oven to 425 degrees.
7. mix chopped rosemary and thyme with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. when dough has risen, make wells with thumb and put herb+oil mixture into them.
8. bake for 20-25 minutes.