Foccacia Rosemary Bread Recipe

Susan Belsinger shares this savory Italian foccacia rosemary bread recipe using fresh herbs from the garden.

This foccacia rosemary bread recipe adds an Italian element to any meal.

This foccacia rosemary bread recipe adds an Italian element to any meal.

PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM/ARENA PHOTO UK

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Learn how to make this Italian foccacia rosemary bread recipe, perfect as a side dish to pasta.

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I first ate foccacia al ramerino when I was a student living in Perugia. We'd stop on our way to Italian class and get a piece of this fragrant foccacia, which was cut into 6-inch squares, and have it for breakfast, licking the olive oil from our fingers as we walked to the Universita. This recipe is an adaptation of that wonderful, savory bread.

The best homemade foccacia is cooked at a high heat on a baking stone, or on tiles. The oven needs to be set a little lower when the foccacia is baked on a metal pan. Because foccacia is generally too big to be handled with a pizza peel, I bake mine on a dark metal baking sheet, sprinkled with cornmeal so that the dough doesn't stick.

Foccacia Rosemary Bread Recipe

Makes one 10- by 15-inch foccacia.

Dough:
This recipe yields enough dough for one thick foccacia; I often double it and keep one in the fridge to bake a day or two later, or freeze the dough to thaw before using at a later date.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water, 100 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, divided
3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, or use all white flour if desired
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary

Dissolve yeast in about 1/4 cup warm water and let proof for about 10 minutes.

Mix flours and make a well in them. When yeast has proofed (yeast begins to foam), pour it into well with about half remaining water. Gradually stir water and yeast into well. Add olive oil, salt and rest of water and stir to blend. Turn dough out onto pastry marble or board dusted with flour. Gather dough and knead it, adding flour if necessary. Sprinkle chopped rosemary over dough, fold dough over, and knead rosemary into dough. Dough should be soft and lively after 7 or 8 minutes.

Let dough double in bulk in lightly oiled bowl. It is ideal to do this first rise in the refrigerator overnight, but it is not necessary. Punch dough down and pat it into rough rectangle with your hands. Let rest, covered with towel, on lightly floured surface for 20 minutes, or until dough is at room temperature if it has been refrigerated.

Stretch dough gently with your hands on a baking pan sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. Let dough rise in warm place, covered, for about 15 minutes, before topping or filling and baking.

Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, with a baking stone, if you have one, on bottom rack.

Once foccacia dough has risen on baking sheet, take your fingers, spreading them wide, and gently press down on dough to make indentations all over top of foccacia.

Topping:
2 cloves garlic, minced
About 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 generous tablespoon fresh minced rosemary
1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
Coarse sea salt
About 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, optional

Place garlic in shallow dish and add about 3 tablespoons olive oil. Brush dough with olive oil and garlic, letting some collect in depressions. Sprinkle rosemary over dough, and spread onion over top of foccacia.

Place baking sheet directly on baking stone or on middle rack of oven. Bake for about 25 minutes. When foccacia is done, it will be golden brown on edges and crisp on outside. Remove from oven and brush with remaining olive oil, especially on outer edges. Sprinkle generously with salt. Garnish with olives, if desired. Cut and serve warm.