“Every spirit passing through the world fingers the tangible and mars and the mutable, and finally has come to look and not to buy.” Marilynne Robinson, in Housekeeping
Rosemary or Parmesan Focaccia Bread
adapted from Baking Illustrated
1/2 cup unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water [100-110 degrees]
1 cup sourdough starter
Combine flour, water and starter in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until a uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
1 medium russet potato (mashed)—whatever makes 1 ½ cups potato
3 1/2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
1 cup warm water [100-110 degrees]
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Stir the flour, water and starter into the sponge with a wooden spoon until a uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 15 minutes.
Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt over the dough; stir into the dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature, 30 minutes. Spray a rubber spatula or bowl scraper with olive oil; fold the partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding the edge of the dough toward the middle. Turn the bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn the bowl and fold the dough six more times [for a total of 8 turns]. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise, 30 minutes. Repeat the folding, turning, and rising two more times, for a total of three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position, place a baking stone on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees, at least 30 minutes before baking.
Gently transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and divide in half. Shape each piece of dough into a 5-inch round by gently tucking under the edges. Coat two 9-inch round cakes pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Sprinkle each pan with 1/ 2 teaspoon salt. Place a round of dough in one pan, top side down, slide the dough around the pan to coat the bottom and sides, then flip the dough over. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
Using your fingertips, press the dough out toward the edges of the pan, taking care not to tear it. [If the dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying to stretch it again.] Using a dinner fork, poke the entire surface of the dough 25-3o times. If any large bubbles remain on the surface or sides of the dough, pop with the fork to deflate.Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the rosemary or Parmesan evenly over the top of the dough. Let the dough rest in the pan until slightly bubbly, 5-10 minutes.
Place the pans on the baking stone and lower the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Bake until the tops are golden brown, 25-28 minutes, switching the pans halfway through the baking time. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pan and place on the wire rack. Brush the tops with any oil remaining in the pan. Cool 30 minutes before serving.
This was an incredible accompaniment to chili (a new recipe which I’ll post tomorrow). Short and stout and rich with flavor! 5 stars!