Have you ever planned a perfect meal and gotten all of the ingredients only to realize at the last minute that you forgot something crucial? Have you ever decided to forgo your whole meal because you forgot that thing, or worse go without? I have. And everytime I feel that way I yearn for the thing I had planned for. This happened to me recently with a darling friend when she came to Boston for a day of cooking, visiting, and drinking (we made the most magnificaent mimosas which I will share soon). As we wandered through H-Mart looking at quirky and adorable bowls and spoons I offhandedly mentioned my lack of eating much tofu in my life. My formerly vegan friend immediately demanded we get tofu, coat it in nutritional yeast and make sandwiches with it. I said fine and she went on a tofu and nutritional yeast hunt. Do you know how hard it is to find nutrional yeast? The only place I found it was Whole Foods on River St, seriously, why so anti-vegan?
We arrived home laden with bags of H-Mart shopping, China Fair (a kitchen supply store in Newton) shopping, and some groceries from Star Market. But we had forgotten bread for our sandwiches. We cursed our lack of wherewithal and I said that I would make some, since I had all the ingredients and I do so love to make bread. Also we were done with the being out part of the day and just wanted to cook and in general make a big kitchen mess.
I pulled out my Flour cookbook and turned immediately to the Rosemary and Olive-Oil Focaccia recipe. I bought this book at the end of April and I have already made this focaccia dough a handful of times (like 4) for pizza. It is the perfect recipe for pizza dough with its soft airiness, and as a foccacia it was DREAMY. I loved sandwiches on it, good thing too as I wasn’t such a fan of the nutritional yeast coated tofu (sorry, S – maybe if we had fried it up in some butter I would have liked it more). We made our sandwiches with tofu and there was still half a loaf of bread, ooh excitement. I saved it, squirrelled away in a big ziploc in the pantry and the next day made the most heavenly prosciutto sandwiches on that bread. Who knew?
Please take the time to make this dough – you won’t be sorry and your dining companions will thank you. Focaccia is a nice way to “swank” up those humdrum sandwiches you’ve been carting to work and it’s totally flexible; next time I’m going to stud it with sundried tomatoes and top it with some fresh grated asiago. Swoon.
Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia
Barely adapted from the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang, it’s practically perfect as is, and mine wouldn’t be at all adapted if I kept bread flour around.
1 3/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 cup All Purpose flour
1 1/4 cup bread flour (this is my only modification, I don’t keep bread flour around so I used AP, it was wonderful)
3 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs Rosemary, roughly chopped
Combine the water and yeast together and allow the yeast to get foamy (about a minute of sitting). If your yeast does not foam and just sits at the bottom of the water try again with slightly warmer water, if your yest still isn’t foamy it’s dead and you need new. Once your yeast is activated and happy pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the flours (if you are using both, if not then just use 4 3/4 cup of AP flour), 1 tsp of the salt, and sugar and turn the mixer on low, allowing the dough hook to bring the whole thing together. When the dough is a shaggy ball drizzle 1/2 cup of the olive oil into the bowl. Continue to knead the dough until it is a smooth ball – 4-5 minutes on a low speed. When the dough is smooth and supple turn the dough ball into an oiled smooth bowl. Cover the bowl with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap and let it rise somewhere war (70-80 degrees) until doubled in volume. Once the dough is risen you can do two things with it: either, split it in half and make two pizzas (NOMNOM) or make focaccia bread. To make the focaccia bread turn out the dough onto a 10″x15″ cookie sheet spread with cornmeal. Stretch the dough until it fills the cookie sheet and pock mark it with your fingertips. Brush the top of the focaccia dough with the 1/4 cup of olive oil and sprinkle the salt and rosemary on top. Bake the focaccia at 425 degrees farenheit for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Eat this focaccia as sandwich bread, it’s one of the best things you will ever do.