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Rosemary Foccacia

Dec 20, 2005 | From the kitchen of Rose

Jane Question:
I attempted the Rosemary Foccacia a couple of weeks ago and ended up throwing out the mixture. When I completed Step 1, after 30 min. of mixing on my Kitchen Aid, the mix was still totally liquid. After sitting for 7 hrs, I finally tossed. What could I have done wrong?

Rose Reply:
many people have had trouble with this recipe but some have succeeded so i have to assume it's either the type of flour or the amount, i.e. if measuring instead of weighing the balance of flour to the enormous amount of water may be off. also, it may take longer than 20 minutes to form a ball but if it doesn't after 25 minutes you need to add a little more flour. For the airiest texture and largest holes, allow the dough to double instead of 1-1/2 times. i also double the yeast now as well. and most important of all, dimple the dough deeply all over before baking. i will be posting a fabulous new focaccia from primo in maine but you will need to have some sort of starter. old starter is fine--it doesn't have to be very active bc the recipe also contains instant yeast. i think this is the best flavor and texture of any focaccia i've ever tasted.

Comments

Steve Alleyne
Steve Alleyne
04/10/2016 10:47 PM

I got the Bread Bible for Christmas and after many rounds of pita bread I moved on to the focaccia! Kneading with the paddle is taking closer to 27 minutes but definitely getting the wet mozz ball. I'll try more flour. The only problem is it's sticking to my beat up old, dark, non-stick pans. Yeah, they need to be replaced.
Also, I use my stone but in the 2nd position down from the top. If I use the stone/rack in the lowest position the top never browns. In the slot above the middle position I get a crispy brown bubbled top!

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I tried again. Getting better. Added the 35g. Extra of flour, and mixed for about 30 min. It was still like a very thick batter, but put in the refrigerator overnight. Poured it on the sheet in the am, and let it rise about an hour. Still to loose for dimples, but I cooked it anyway. The taste was very good, chewy and flavorful. Still awfully thin - 3/4 inch at the highest - but worth making/trying again . Thank you for your recommendations !

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Thank you so much - I will try again. I did weigh the water, and the other ingredients. I will look at the tutorial, and hope I get it right next time.

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Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Leigh
09/ 9/2015 02:35 PM

Leigh, don't give up! those who failed eventually achieved nirvana and adored this bread. i'm assuming you weighed the water as well? you have to keep beating until it looks like melted mozzarella. it will not form a ball.

do take a look at Marie Wolf's step by step tutorial on her blog: breadbasketcase.blogspot.com

she first contacted me when the focaccia failed and went on to bake every bread in the book. when i visited her in MN the first time she made that rascal focaccia and it was even better than i remember mine being!

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My focaccia failed badly. It was my first try from the cookbook I just got for my birthday. I measured my (new) King Arthur flour by weight (and by volume, to check). Mixed for 40 min exactly as directed, but longer - still a batter - no ball. I poured it onto a pan, let it rise (about 1/2 inch after an hour) and cooked it. It was too loose to take the dimples that I pressed in. It came out kind of like a big crumpet, but tastes ok. I am hesitant to try it again, judging from all the problems i read about.

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i doubt if it's the mixer--good you mentioned the humidity because that's most likely the culprit.

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Within a year for sure but could be 6 months old.

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Anonymous in reply to comment from Beth
06/12/2010 02:46 PM

How old is your flour?

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I have made this recipe from the book several times as written on my old KitchenAid Heavy Duty, 350 watt, 5 qt mixer. It always formed a ball at around 20 minutes, sometimes 22-23 minutes. I tried it today with my new KitchenAid Pro 610, 595 watt, 6 qt mixer and expected that it might form the dough ball faster. The first batch I tossed after 30 minutes thinking that I mismeasured the flour by 100 grams (290 instead of 390). I made another batch and the same thing happened, no dough ball after 30 minutes. I added more flour, quite a bit, until I got the dough ball and it is rising now although I am skeptical on how it will turn out. Could the new mixer have anything to do with it? I am using the same King Arthur unbleached flour that I always use and it is very humid today but I weigh my ingredients. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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It is necessary to use the paddle.

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I have to agree with that last post -- I have tried the focaccia twice; perhaps I need to try again with more yeast, less water and the paddle instead of the hook... unfortunately I also had the "soup" problem and never got the dough ball to form. I actually poured the soup into a pan and tried baking it but it was just a flat, oily mess when done. I have such great luck with the other recipes in this book (Levy's rye, ciabatta, raisin, etc.) so I was very disappointed.

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no, it's not a mistake. it's the way it was done in the original recipe but i now prefer double which is 3/4 teaspoon.

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So is the 3/8 tsp of yeast a mistake? If so, how much should there be?

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thank you for sharing this. the cornmeal is a terrific idea as it would also add to the texture of the bottom crust!

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Simone Cromwell
Simone Cromwell
11/ 4/2008 12:23 PM

The Rosemary Focaccia is my favorite recipe in the book and the bread everyone asks me to bring when I'm invited to dinner. I did have to work out some kinks though:
1. I use 2 teaspoons instant yeast
2. I use an additional 35g flour
3. I butter the sheetpan and dust with a copious amount of cornmeal...and it has never stuck!
4. I take the baked bread off the pan and cool it on a wire rack...this preserves the crispness for a while.

Hope this helps, this bread is delicious and really worth working on it!

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I just tried this recipe. Would like to double check that we add all the water in? Or add until the dough sticks (ie less than what was stated in the recipe). I had to add q a lot more flour (used plain flour), because the dough was still soupy after 20mins. Probably the problem was also in the wrong flour used? Bread seems very hard and rubbery... Appreciate some advice. Thanks!

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Steve Gerber
Steve Gerber
02/23/2008 04:18 PM

Mari,

You're not using the dough hook are you? You need to use the paddle attachment. I made this mistake the first time I made the recipe and I also stumbled across another baker on the web who tried using the dough hook. This dough (more like batter) is too soft for the hook. You have to use the paddle to get the gluten worked up correctly to form the internal structure of the foccacia. I usually get a ball clinging to the paddle after about 16 minutes. When I stop the mixer it oozes off the paddle like melted mozarella cheese like the recipe says it should.

Using fresh yeast is important too. I use 1 teaspoon of yeast with this recipe and the dough usually triples in volume and makes nice big holes inside the bread. Don't give up yet, you can do this! :)

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Wish I have read this thread before I attempted the Rosemary Focaccia. The first batch I made didn't form a ball after 30 minutes. The second batch I attempted didn't form a ball after 1 hour 25 minutes and got thrown away. If I'm brave I may try it again tomorrow doubling the yeast and weighing the flour with adding more flour if necessary. It just looks so delicious.

Mari

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no--the 3rd printing still has 3/8 teaspoon yeast. but i never mentioned crispy as it is not--at least not til you cake up with the great idea to give it another 5 min. on another baking sehet!

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I have a few follow-ups on this. I really like this bread and have made it probably about a dozen times. I keep experimenting with different toppings (rosemary, garlic, roasted tomatoes) and different methods of cooking (oiled sheet pan, silpain, nonstick pan) to try to find the right combination for me. My questions are: 1) is the amount of yeast in the 3rd printing of the Bread Bible the right amount? As I was re-reading this thread I noticed the reference to doubling the yeast in the beginning. 2) Should this be removed from the pan right away after baking or should it set for a few minutes? 3) How crispy should this be when first baked? Mine is not crispy, it is light, airy, chewy and soft and when I remove it from the pan it is difficult since it is so "floppy" (sorry for the non-technical term). The last couple of times I've cut it into pieces with kitchen shears and transferred them to another baking sheet and popped it back into the turned-off oven for about 5 minutes. It gives the crust a bit of crispiness without drying out the moist, chewy middle.

Thank you for any input you have,

Brian

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I've made the rosemary focaccia from the Bread Bible a few times and I never have a problem with the dough. It takes between 25 and 30 minutes to form the ball and then it really rises nicely over the next 4 hours and gets really light and bubbly.

My only question is what the moisture level should be like when it's done. If I cook it for 12-13 minutes, it's still fairly light in color and I think it's still too "moist" inside. I've cooked it for 18 minutes or so and it still seems like it may be too wet, especially in the middle. Since there's oil coating the pan, the bottom is kind of wet, so I usually take it out of the pan right away so it doesn't get soggy.

Any thoughts from those of you who have made it successfully?

Thanks,
Brian

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deb, i've done it--using a quarter size sheet pan.

vernita, thanks for the charming bread report. always fun to prove skeptics wrong especially when it's your daughter or mother for that matter not to mention husband!

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I've been making hearth breads for years but found the Baking Bible last Winter at the Library and kept it out over due for 3 months:0. I read it and compared what I'd been doing with your recipes and sense I'd also been making a rosemary focaccia, it was the first one I tried. when i poured it out on to the pan, my daughter said it was ruined and wouldn't work. I told her it was supposed to look like melted cheese...she was very dubious. I let it rise anyway, put the garlic oil and rosemary on it with a sprinkle of Parmesan. It baked up beautiful! I diagonal cut it into diamonds, put it on a lined platter and took it for a friends husband's memorial service. Everyone loved it, were impressed and, amazed it was "homemade". I was so excited to happen on this site (from the "no knead bread" story) and have been enjoying catching up on all the tips and info. I also do Sourdough and have started adding it some to my hearth breads and I now am doing the no knead bread quite often. Thanks for all the info!

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I made the rosemary foccacia and it turned out great. I had none of the other problems posted here. It makes such a large amount, I am wondering if it is possible to cut the recipe in half by halving all of the ingredients?

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i'm sorry to tell you that i have no idea bc everyone i know included the head technical advisor of the yeast co. that produces both varieties has converted to the instant variety bc we feel there is absolutely no difference in taste. i'm sure you will find it bc it is still availble and you should really do a blind taste comparison to decide for yourself.

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hi,
I just moved to New York from Europe and I am desprate to find fresh yeast. I live in Manhattan. Please let me know if you know of any place in Manhattan to buy fresh yeast. Everything seem to taste so much better with fresh yeast. Thank you, v

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sure--you can give it an overnight rise in the frig.

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Procrastibaker
Procrastibaker
12/ 5/2006 12:09 PM

Hi Rose,
I just made the rosemary foccacia recipe for the first time and it worked really well. I will say that I had to add a bit of flour (per your suggestion) since I think my measuring was a bit off (for some dumb reason I was weighing my flour in ounces instead of grams and I think the fraction was off). This seems like a recipe that needs extra-precise measuring. But it turned out beautifully and I loved the feeling of the ooey, gooey dough. That said, this foccacia participated in a taste-test with the herb foccacia and lost. Everyone agreed (myself included) that the herb version has a much better flavor. Is there a way to develop the flavor more with the rosemary recipe (maybe some time in the fridge?)?

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Steve Gerber
Steve Gerber
11/14/2006 05:30 PM

Ok, I've now made this foccacia recipe without it sticking to the pan. I went out and bought a brand new nonstick pan and coated it with olive oil. I let the dough rise about an hour on the oiled pan and then baked the foccacia at 475 degrees for 12 minutes. I preheated the oven to 475 with unglazed tiles on the bottom rack. Unfortunately when I went to pop the 12x16 inch pan into the oven I discovered that it was really 19 inches long (including the handles) so it wouldn't fit side ways in my oven. :( It did fit if I put the long side straight in, but it didn't sit flat on the tiles due to the 'lip' on the oven rack. Maybe I'll have to bend the flat 'handles' up out of the way. Or else turn my bottom oven rack around backward so the lip is in the front. Or bend the oven rack flat. So my advice to Simone is, go buy a new Teflon pan.

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i hate to suggest this but if all else fails, a non-stick sheet pan or even foil's the answer. the non-stick foil is really terrific.

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I, too, have had trouble with this recipe sticking!!! I've tried it three times and twice it's stuck badly to the pan, even though it's been thoroughly coated with oil. The flavor is well worth the trouble and remains one of my favorite recipes!

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steven, forgot to answer your first question. i only use the airbake type pans for egg and butter rich breads such as challah or brioche that might burn on the bottom. i use a half sheet pan well coated with olive oil and it is not a non-stick surface.

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thanks steve! just want to add that yeast won't foam unless you add a little sugar to the water for proofing.

i use only instant yeast aka bread machine, or instant active dry (acdtive dry alone is not instant) in my recipes. (for other recipes calling for active dry you need to use about 3/4 the volume in instant dry. it is more reliable. the moment i get it home i put it in an airight container in the freezer where it stays fresh for at least years!

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Steve Gerber
Steve Gerber
11/ 2/2006 08:48 PM

I also want to respond to Jane's original question. I had the same experience the very first time I tried the recipe but it didn't take long to discover that the culprit was old yeast. When the dough didn't behave properly I tried proofing a teaspoon of yeast and it didn't foam at all so I went out and bought good fresh yeast and all was well. :)

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Steve Gerber
Steve Gerber
11/ 2/2006 08:35 PM

I think the Rosemary Foccacia recipe is great! I've made it twice and both times it turned out nice and light and stretchy. Mine forms a ball after about 16 minutes using Gold Medal Harvest King unbleached white flour. My only problem is that it sticks to my pan really badly. It's not burnt at all, it's more like the bottom is carmelized. I baked it on a 9x13 inch double walled aluminum airbake type pan coated with olive oil at 475 degrees for 12 minutes. Anyone have an idea how I can keep it from sticking? Would a nonstick coated pan work better?

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thanks betty. every time someone reports that this recipe worked for them i breath a sigh of relief and feel vindicated for having included it in the book!

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Betty Jackson
Betty Jackson
04/ 5/2006 11:32 AM

I loved this recipe. It stays very liquid, so you pour it into a high-sided baking sheet for the second rise. It will still rise, and then you bake it. It comes out light and lacy and crisp on top. You're right, though. You can't possibly shape it.

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This bread was one of the biggest baking disasters I've ever had. Fortunately, I didn't plan to serve it to guests. After 35 minutes of mixing in my Kitchen Aid, the mixture was still soup. I added another 1/4 cup of flour and mixed for another 5 minutes. It doubled in size nicely, but it was still soup, and couldn't possibly be shaped. I've never had bad luck with a Beranbaum recipe before, and I think this recipe should be removed from the cookbook in the next edition.

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