After the success of my pizza dough, I felt confident enough to tackle another bread baking project. Baking bread is less intimidating to me than baking desserts. So I picked the tastiest looking bread recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen book: Rosemary Focaccia bread. The recipe I used is their main focaccia recipe, but there are many variations. But to me focaccia has rosemary, so I went with the original.
The first step of this recipe is to peel, cube, and boil one russet potato. The potato, the book assures me, is essential to keeping the bread moist and tender. One the potato is cool enough, you grate it. Next it’s time for the stand mixer.
Can I say again how grateful I am to have inherited my mother’s 40 year old Kitchenaid stand mixer (during her lifetime, that is)? The only problem with it is that it’s a weird shade of beige/off-white. It’s possible it was originally white and 40 years in a house with a heavy smoker turned it this color. Not quite brave enough to get out the spray paint, but feeling that the mixer was in need of some pimping, my husband and I applied stickers to it. (With some inspiration from Alton Brown’s awesome flame mixer.) The stickers all came with various guitar hero/Rock Band games, but they work.
Anyway, the actual recipe is pretty simple: flour, yeast, salt, water, olive oil. I mixed it all until smooth and then turned it out onto my dining room table, kneaded and then put into an oiled bowl. At which point I spotted the piled of grated potato sitting on the counter and realized I had forgotten to add it to the dough during the initial machine kneading. So we threw the dough back into the mixing bowl with the potato and turned the stand mixer back on. In trying to get the dough and potato to combine, I lost half of a rubber spatula to the mixer’s dough hook. Luckily the pieces of rubber didn’t get mixed into the dough.
After it seemed combined I turned it back onto the table. But the dough was now really, really sticky. I realized why the recipe said you could add another 1/4 cup of flour if needed. But I wasn’t going to put the dough back in the mixer again. So I kept adding lots of flour to the table and dough and tried to combine it by hand. Eventually it was about as good as I thought it was going to get, so I tossed it back in the oiled bowl and literally washed my hands of it.
After it rose for an hour I transferred the dough to a baking sheet and spread it out to rise again. After another hour’s rise I coated the dough with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh rosemary from the huge bush in my yard and sea salt. It baked for 25 minutes and emerged gorgeous and smelling wonderful.
Once it was cool enough to taste my husband and I started chowing down. The bread was really crisp on the outside and nicely tender on the inside. The sea salt really made it. It was awesome bread. In fact, it was so good that I made this recipe again yesterday for visiting family. This is definitely going to be a regular thing. In fact, I wish I had some right now.