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Recipe: Focaccia is especially good right from your own oven, topped with sea salt and rosemary

Rosemary sea-salt focaccia
Rosemary sea-salt focaccia(Sheryl Julian for The Boston Globe)

Makes 12 pieces or enough to serve 6

Focaccia is especially good from your own oven. Use these chilly winter days to practice making a simple yeast dough that rises twice (while you go about your business). Milk softens the dough, fresh rosemary, olive oil, and sea salt flavor it. After the first rise, roll the dough, line it into a shallow rectangular pan, and let it rise again. Before baking on the bottom shelf of the oven — so it’s close to the heat source — rub the dough with more olive oil, dimple it with your fingertips, then sprinkle with rosemary and salt. The finished focaccia is tender with a beautiful golden color. Set squares beside roast chicken or cut smaller pieces and fill with smoked turkey or egg salad for Game Day sandwiches.

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Extra olive oil (for sprinkling)
teaspoons dry yeast
¼cup lukewarm water
¾cup milk, heated to lukewarm
3tablespoons olive oil
1tablespoon sugar
teaspoons sea salt
3tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3cups flour
Extra flour (for sprinkling)
Extra chopped fresh rosemary (for sprinkling)
Extra sea salt (for sprinkling)

1. Oil the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch shallow metal baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water. Set aside for 5 minutes.

3. With a wooden spoon, stir in the milk, olive oil, sugar, the 1½ teaspoons salt, and 3 tablespoons chopped rosemary. When the mixture is smooth, add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition, until the mixture forms a rough dough. You may not need all of the last cup of flour; there should not be dry crumbs in the bowl.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it vigorously for a few minutes, or until it comes together to form a smooth dough.

5. In a clean bowl, add a few drops of olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it all around so it is oiled all over. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours, or until it has almost doubled in bulk.

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6. Punch down the dough and knead it to deflate it completely. On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough to a 9-by-13-inch rectangle, pulling the corners slightly to make an even rectangle. If the dough seems too elastic to roll, let it sit a few minutes to relax. Lift up the dough and ease it into the baking pan.

7. Cover with a cloth and set the pan in a warm place for 50 minutes, or until it rises in the pan.

8. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Slide a rack into the bottom position of the oven.

9. With your fingers, rub the top of the focaccia with olive oil. Holding your fingers perpendicular to the dough, make dimples all over it. The dimples do not have to be in even rows. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt.

10. Transfer the baking pan to the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the sheet from back to front halfway through baking, or until it is golden and firm on top. Watch the rectangle carefully to make sure your oven doesn’t have a hot spot and burn a corner of the focaccia. If it does, move the pan up a rack to finish baking. Immediately slide the focaccia onto a wire rack to cool.

11. Using a serrated knife, make 2 vertical cuts and 3 horizontal cuts in the focaccia to form 12 pieces. Sheryl Julian

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Sheryl Julian can be reached at sheryl.julian@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @sheryljulian.