Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making Focaccia Bread with Rosemary

Years ago my mother got sourdough starter from San Francisco. It was supposedly over 100 years old at the time. She kept it going by feeding it and using it regularly. When I got out of college and was on my own, she gave me some of the starter. Now I'm a grandma and the starter is about 140 years old.

Today I made focaccia bread with the starter. The recipe won't be so easy to share because I can't give you the starter.

Many cookbooks today have recipes for short-term starters - such as mixing 1 tsp active dry yeast with 1/2 cup warm water and 1/4 cup of flour. Stir this together and leave it for about an hour. It should be bubbly and good to use at that time.

Here's how I made the focaccia:

  • Stir 1 tsp active dry yeast into 1 cup warm water and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  • Put 3/4 cup sourdough starter in the mixing bowl.
  • Add the yeast mixture and 3 T olive oil. Stir together well.
  • Add about 3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 3 T finely chopped rosemary leaves, 2 tsp coarse sea salt.
  • Change to the dough hook when needed.
  • Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead a little by hand.
  • Put dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 1/4 hour.
  • Turn risen dough onto oiled cookie sheet with sides (11 X 17) and flatten it to fill the pan.
  • Allow to rise again about another hour.
  • About 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 425.
If you have a baking stone, that really helps this bread cook well. When bread has risen, use the tips of your fingers to dimple the dough.

Drizzle the bread with 2 T extra virgin olive oil and 1 to 1 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt.

Put sprigs of fresh rosemary all over the surface.

Put bread in oven and spray the oven walls with cold water from a spritzer bottle three times every three minutes during the first 10 minutes of baking.

Bake in total for about 20 - 25 minutes. During the last 10 minutes you can put the bread directly on the baking stone (I always forget to, but it crisps the bottom).

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