My passion for baking has taken a hiatus this summer with the temperatures soaring and not the best time to heat up the kitchen. But today, NYC is cool and cloudy, and although the forecasters were expecting rain, we have had a drizzle for the most part. I am not complaining that the temperature is only 68 degrees, because that gives me an excuse to turn on the oven.
Last week we were at Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, that is the Little Italy of Bronx, and you can get fabulous italian food and groceries in the neighborhood. I picked up a rosemary and olive focaccia and couldn't stop nibbling. I knew I had to bake this as soon as I could. Today seemed just the perfect day with the sun hidden all day. And, so I set about proofing the yeast, doubling the dough and as I type this, I am nibbling away on a warm salt-crusted focaccia....heaven in one bite. Who needs soup and salad, I could just eat this for supper. I have yet to try a variation with toppings, but for now, here is what I used after browsing and mixing and matching focaccia recipes.
2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 tablespoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
In a bowl, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Slowly add the flour to the bowl and mix with yeast mixture. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. A stand mixer is of great help, since I do not own one, I mixed it all the old-fashioned way - good exercise for the arms :)
Turn the dough out onto the counter or work surface and fold over a few times. Form the dough into a big ball and place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. After the dough is doubled in volume, turn it out onto the counter. Roll the dough and stretch it out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Gently lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple all over with your fingertips. Brush the surface with olive oil and then add garlic, olives, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and serve warm or as needed.
Yeastspotting....with more posts to follow in the coming months.