I was snipping the veritable tree of rosemary out in front of my house after this morning’s rain and day dreaming about what to make with all the trimmings. I rolled a few leaves between my fingers and breathed in the heady scent. The herb of remembrance, it brought to mind a line from Myrtle Reed’s Lavender and Old Lace:
Miss Ainslie gathered a bit of rosemary, crushing it between her white fingers. “See,” she said, “Some of us are like that it takes a blow to find the sweetness in our souls.”
Sweet souled or not, I decided to make a focaccia. This is one of my go to breads as it is so easy and can be made new each time, depending on the toppings you use. I went for rosemary and kalamata olives. Other times, I’ve roasted some garlic or used roasted red pepper from a jar or, even caramelized some onions. It is all good.
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 to 115°F)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup good quality olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted black kalamata olives
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar and allow to proof for about 5 minutes. Stir together flour and salt in medium bowl. With mixer on low, gradually add flour to proofed yeast. Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup oil. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove the dough and coat the bowl with small amount of olive oil. Place dough in bowl, turning to coat surface. Cover with damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place until double in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or two 9-inch round cake pans with olive oil. Dust with corn meal.
Punch down the dough. Shape dough into two balls. (At this stage, you can wrap one ball in plastic wrap before sealing it in a zip top bag and storing in the freezer for later use. Let it defrost in refrigerator overnight and then leave on counter to come to room temperature. Continue on from here.) Roll each ball into 9-inch round diameter; place on baking sheet, or press dough into cake pans. Cover with damp towel or plastic wrap; let double in size (about 45 minutes).
Make indentations in dough surface with fingers. Drizzle over the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, olives and coarse salt. If you’re only making 1 loaf at a time, cut all amounts in half.
Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until brown.