Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Rosemary Focaccia


It's hard to understand how I could have such fond memories of the biggest baking disaster of my life--this very same beautiful rosemary focaccia, the first bread I made from The Bread Bible, and one that almost led to the death of my nascent bread-baking hobby.

Those who have known me for a while know this story already, so feel free to skip through it.  I got The Bread Bible for Christmas in 2005 and decided I would bake all the recipes in a year.  I got a new KitchenAid mixer and started in.  You know the part of the recipe where it says it will take 20 minutes of steady beating to turn into dough?  Well, I mixed and mixed, and it never did.  After 40 minutes, I gave up, and stuck the runny mess into the oven, after which it became a mass of gummy cardboard.  I sent off an indignant email to Rose, never expecting to hear from her, but in less than a half hour, she sent me a kind email telling me that lots of people had trouble with this bread, but it really was fantastic if it worked.  Only after my second failed attempt, when a clever blog reader noticed a picture showing me using the dough hook instead of the paddle attachment did I realize that the fault was not in Rose's recipe, or even in the stars, but in me and my apparent inability to read.

The bread works when you use the paddle attachment.

In fact, it's really fun to make because it goes from this....


To this....  Look at that gluten developing!  You know it's going to work now.


To this....



This dough is so aesthetically pleasing, and so wonderfully tactile.  At some points you almost think it doesn't even matter how it turns out, because it's so fun to work with.


The dough rose with gusto the first time (it was in my proofer at 78 degrees).  The pan didn't fit in the proofer, so it rose - very slowly - in my cold kitchen for the second rise.  After a while, I decided it had been out long enough and I would rely on oven spring for the rest.


I dimpled it, tore off fresh rosemary leaves, and sprinkled Maldon sea salt all over.  Back in the day, I didn't have Maldon sea salt.  Don't you sometimes marvel at all the food that you use routinely now and had never heard of 20 or 30 years ago?  Maldon sea salt is one; actually, focaccia is another. Probably some of you young people never had to undergo a life without focaccia, but I did.  And I also walked 5 miles to school.


It took a little, but not much, longer than 13 minutes to reach a stage of golden brownness.  I wish I'd thought to poach the garlic and do that variation because it's delicious.  I also wish I'd used a bit more rosemary because it dried and shrunk in the oven.


Otherwise, I have no complaints.  As I look through the cookbook, I can't believe that I made every bread in the book in just one year.  But I'm glad we're going at a slower rate this time.


20 comments:

Amy said...

I have missed your blog!

Marie said...

Amy,
Thank you!

faithy said...

We are right behind you! :D Nice to be able to read your blog posts on your experience with the recipes.

faithy said...

Are you baking along with us again? I should have just scattered the rosemary like what you did. I didn't know what I was thinking!

Bethany said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mendy said...

ב''ה

Is this a repost or are you also baking through again?

I hear you had to walk to and from school uphill… both ways. :)

Bethany said...

I loved following along on your first time through Ruth's book and then just never took your blog out of my RSS subscriptions. So when today's post popped up, I was so excited to "see" you I had to delurk and tell you so. Glad you're well and still baking!

Marie Wolf said...

Faithy and Mendy,
I'm in again!

Bethany,
Thank you. Funny when people just pop up again, isn't it?

faithy said...

YAY! I like it when you are in with us baking together! I was thinking to myself the other day that we will be missing you for this bake-a-long and won't be the same just reading your past post although it would be a good reference. :)

Jenn said...

Marie, I made this yesterday but failed miserably. I weighed all my ingredients, use dough hook, mix it for 20 mins using KA #4, but it never become a dough. Just lumpy soup. Will try again today.

Glori Berkel said...

Marie I am so glad you're doing this again. The first time around can only help us baking now. Did you put warm hard boiled eggs in your mittens to keep your hands warm while you walked those 5 miles?

Vicki said...

It's so fun to read your baking experience now compared to your maiden Bread Bible voyage! Beautiful bread. You got it to fill the pan so nicely.

Bethany said...

Jenn, I hope you see this before you try the bread again! Use the paddle attachment as the dough hook doesn't work to build the gluten in a dough this wet. Good luck!

Jenn said...

Bethany, thanks! I did use paddle attachment. Somehow typed up dough hook in my comments by mistake. I posted the bread on my blog, knittybaker.com.

Jenn said...

Bethany, thanks. I mistakenly wrote dough hook when I meant paddle. My mistake was in the flour. I used store brand ap flour which has a lower protein content. My second attempt was a success. Posted it on my blog, knittybaker.com.

ElliaM said...

Marie, second time is a charm, yes? So glad you are on the journey again. Look forward to reading your blog and admiring the results!

evil cake lady said...

So fun to see you active over here again!

Marty said...

Well you never left my favorites list and every now and then I would take a peek. Very happy to see a new post and I hope to see many more. Welcome back Marie, Marty

Marie Wolf said...

Marty,
Thanks so much for your vote of confidence! I hope to be baking many more loaves of bread.
Marie

Unpluggedparent said...

Missed your photos, your exquisite taste and best of all your dry style. Which is a plus in a writer/ humorist but not so much in a cake. Unless you're German--they like their cakes dry which is why everything is topped with whipped cream.