Monday, January 18, 2010

Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

AMAZING, easy bread adapted from This took about 3 1/2 hours from start to finish, though it was delayed thanks to our carbon monoxide alarm going off in the middle of the rising process, which resulted in a visit from some very friendly Cambridge firefighters who brought a little gadget that looked kind of like the one from Ghostbusters . . . except it tested for carbon monoxide, not ghosts. Luckily, our apartment has neither.

9 large garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1/2 cup olive oil
3 (1/4-oz) packages active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups warm water (95°F-105°F)
7 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon table salt
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
Coarse salt for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper for sprinkling

Combine 6 of the sliced garlic cloves and oil in a pan and cook on VERY low heat for about 10 minutes, until garlic is softened and becomes sweet and fragrant. (You could also roast the garlic whole in the same amount of oil if you have time). Remove the garlic slices from the oil and use them for something else (we ate them by themselves -- yum!).

In a large bowl, whisk together yeast and warm water and let stand about 5 minutes, until it looks slightly creamy. Stir 1/3 cup garlic oil into yeast mixture.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour and table salt. Stir half of flour into yeast mixture, until combined. Add the rest of the flour, mixing with hands when necessary. Knead the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes, or until it's soft and slightly sticky. (Note: I needed to add a little bit more warm water in order to get the right consistency, but none of the other reviewers on epicurious seemed to have this problem). Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl, turning with floured hands to coat with oil. Cover bowl with a wet towel and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. I usually turn on the oven, let it heat for a minute or two, then turn in off and place the bowl in there so it has a nice warm place to rise.

Oil a 17- by 11-inch baking pan with some of the garlic oil. Gently press dough into pan, allowing dough to rest 5 minutes if difficult to work with. Cover the pan with the cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Make indentations in dough at 1-inch intervals with oiled fingertips. Drizzle with remaining garlic oil, and press the remaining thinly sliced garlic in the indentations (make sure each slice has some oil on it, so the slices will roast while the bread is baking). Sprinkle the bread with rosemary, coarse salt, and pepper. Bake in lower third of oven until deep golden on top and pale golden on bottom, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer bread to a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.

We used the bread to make sandwiches with goat cheese, broiled tomatoes, and sauteed portobellas -- yum!!

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