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The Infamous Rosemary Focaccia

Mar 18, 2006 | From the kitchen of Rose

seems to me i've received more correspondence about this bread recipe than any other. some adore it and most find it impossible to make. simple as it is, as the highest water content (hydration) bread in the book it has turned out to be the trickiest. so i'm delighted that my friend jan in san diego recently wrote me how much she loves this bread--which she makes often--along with a photo of what the dough (batter) looks like after mixing!

see how it looks like melted mozarella cheese? nothing like a picture. and be sure to dimple it deeply all over right before baking to get the large irregular holes.

Comments

Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Anne
11/30/2013 12:07 AM

Hi Anne,
We suggest that you may want to grease the pan with more oil to prevent the sticking.
We have had comparable results with the specified flours listed for the recipe. You may want to try one of these unbleached flours to establish a control recipe for you to see the results that Rose was thinking of for the bread. Then see if your store brand unbleached flour gives you similar results.
Rose & Woody

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I'm having a problem with the foccacia sticking to the pan. I used a store brand all-purpose flour. Could this be the problem? Thanks.

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Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Ben
09/ 3/2013 12:45 PM

Hi Ben,
We are happy that your experimentation has come with successful results. Rose reasoning for stating the recipe as she did was to try to be true to the original recipe credited to the baker.
Rose & Woody

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I have made this recipe successfully many times. I once tried to show a friend how to make it and it failed miserably. I told her, "It's got to be the flour". She went to the store and bought fresh Gold Medal Flour. It turned out fantastically. Also, I do agree with the reviewers that use an autolyse instead of starting up the KA right away. It definitely shortens the length of time needed to achieve the "mozzarella" stage. I'd be curious as to why Rose chose not to include an autolyse since this recipe demands you stand next to your mixer for 20 minutes?

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thank you yvonne! yes--cake yeast substitute and all yeast equivalencies are in the bread bible and also on this blog.

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Yvonne T. Reye
Yvonne T. Reye
01/31/2013 09:03 AM

Thank you! Rosemary Focaccia (made it 4 times already). It is/was exactly as described in the book from step 1 to the end. I also tried other toppings without overdoing it; but simplicity is really the best thing. Fresh rosemary and excellent olive oil (i happened to have olive oil with hint of grass) -- my children and friends wept from happiness. Thank you again. Lastly -- are there bread cookbooks out there you might recommend that call for compressed yeast? I have plenty of it (no worries - most of it is in the freezer already as suggested in your book). If a recipe calls for dry yeast -- can I substitute compessed yeast?

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Dan Scheitel
Dan Scheitel
06/30/2012 04:35 PM

Tips to those who don't get it.
I had a very difficult time following the recipe, So I made some modifications.
After initially mixing the flour and the water, I give my dough a 20minute Autolyse, it helps the flour absorb the water and require less mixing.
I run my kitchenaid on high the whole time.
I use high gluten flour instead of bread flour
I add my salt after the autolyse--since salt toughens gluten, it helps my dough come together quicker.
Oh I almost forgot, I used fresh yeast--converted from dry to fresh is to use twice as much fresh to dry yeast.

To the Author:
This is a wonderful recipe and I don't want you to take offense that I modified the recipe as such. I have taken the recipe and used bakers percentages to scale the recipe to a workable volume for a 20qt mixer. Some of the modifications I made were necessary for that quantity of dough because without it the recipe would not properly work. I'm sure in your experience you have found that things don't always scale accurately and sometimes a different mixing technique needs to be used to make a presentable product.

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Dan Scheitel
Dan Scheitel
06/30/2012 04:35 PM

Tips to those who don't get it.
I had a very difficult time following the recipe, So I made some modifications.
After initially mixing the flour and the water, I give my dough a 20minute Autolyse, it helps the flour absorb the water and require less mixing.
I run my kitchenaid on high the whole time.
I use high gluten flour instead of bread flour
I add my salt after the autolyse--since salt toughens gluten, it helps my dough come together quicker.
Oh I almost forgot, I used fresh yeast--converted from dry to fresh is to use twice as much fresh to dry yeast.

To the Author:
This is a wonderful recipe and I don't want you to take offense that I modified the recipe as such. I have taken the recipe and used bakers percentages to scale the recipe to a workable volume for a 20qt mixer. Some of the modifications I made were necessary for that quantity of dough because without it the recipe would not properly work. I'm sure in your experience you have found that things don't always scale accurately and sometimes a different mixing technique needs to be used to make a presentable product.

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Results: My Foccaccia turned out beautiful, BUT it never did form a "dough ball" but stayed loose during the mixing period. I had to let it rise much longer for both rises than anticipated. Also to note I found it more of a stringy batter than a dough. But at the same time I can give credit to comparison of melted mozerella which I feel it stayed this consistency the entire time.

in regards to questions: Yes, I used the paddle, and my first attemt was done measuring to the exact grams, my 2nd attemt was done using exact measurements because i live in FLorida and i thought that maybe my flour was weighing heavy due to the extreme humidity. Before I bake I always read the recipe thoroughly as well as I went back and read the intro to the section on Flatbreads since I had never made Foccacia before.

Would I make it again..not sure. It was beautiful and delish when it was finally pulled out of the oven at 9:30pm. If I could get verification that it is ok to rise overnight in the frig then possibly. But at 9:30 my kids were already asleep which was the motivation for me to make it because it was their 1st day of school and I wanted to make them something special to come home to.

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I wrote just such a cantankerous email to rose a few years ago. I claimed--and believed--that this Focaccia was simply impossible to make. An observant reader of my blog noticed that a photo of the focaccia dough showed me using the bread hook attachment instead of the flat blade. I tried the recipe again, with the flat blade (as specified in the cookbook). Success!
It has been my experience that if a recipe of rose's fails, it's because I didn't read the directions carefully enough, not because there was something wrong with the recipe.

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Hang in there- it really does work! Are you weighing your flour, and if so, and if possible, weigh it in grams. Let your mixer go until the 'magic' happens and it will work!

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I have tried this recipe twice already today and have found there is way too much need for deviation from this recipe necessary. In my 2nd attempt I used 2c-3TBSP to start plus after it not coming together have added well over a 1/4 c of flour and still say no formation of a ball. the "batter" was shinny, strands forming in the ball but it never came together. it does look like melted motzezrella though. i can't seem to figure out how somethign would form a dough ball and at the same time be melted cheese? I have exhausted all my flour on this recipe to try for a 3rd time so let's hope that the "melted cheese batter" will somehow rise and create a foccacia. I would catagorize myself as a successful bake but this recipe has me flustered and not wanting to drive down the road of Foccacia again anytime in the future. I love your book, but this recipe is a wash.

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I'm impressed! You've managed the almost ipsmoisble.

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This is great bread! And I find the recipe very easy and time saving. I have another recipe that calls for a sponge overnight and when I have forgotten to make the sponge I use this recipe. I love the texture and taste of the bread. While making it the first time I thought I was doing it wrong too because the dough was soupy. But I just waited a few minutes longer and "Presto!" there is was just like you said. It did go from soupy to a ball rather quickly for me too. I am amazed at your recipes and your willingness to share. Thank you so very much.

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I love this recipe!! I have made it 3 times.. and failed once.. but I'll definitely be making it again!

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just raise it up to a higher rack toward the end of baking.

more yeast so it rises faster but you can use the lower amount and it simply takes more time.

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Hi,

I made this focaccia yesterday. I had no problem making the dough but my end product was no where near as brown on top as the one pictured in the book. How do you achieve such a beautiful brown crust? I thought maybe I should have baked it closer to the middle of the oven- I baked it on a pizza stone I place on the bottom of my oven.
I also didn't double the yeast because I just found out that I should later. Why do you need to double it?
Thanks,

Janina

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a dough hook will not beat it sufficiently unless maybe you do it for a really long time.

also the type of flour is significant and whether or not your are weighing or measuring.

if it doesn't turn to 'mozarella' after 30 minutes i would add more flour by the tablespoon.

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Is there any point in waiting longer than 20 minutes? I am on my second try and still looking at soup! I made this years ago with no trouble (and great success) and I'm not sure what is going wrong now!

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Hi Rose,
I tried the focaccia recipe today and had the same result mentioned earlier: pancake batter. I measured carefully, then double checked with weight and volume. Could the speed of my mixer (a Braun with dough hook) be the problem? Also, it has been very damp where I live, so maybe the flower could hold enough water. I tried adding more a tablespoon at a time, but that's a slippry slope. Thanks for any advice.
Bob

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Rose, this is still my favorite recipe in the whole Bread Bible. Yes, it can be a cantankerous dough, but when it works it is heaven. For all the doubters tell them to just keep trying. It really does work, I promise!
You inspire me, Rose. I use your danish pastry recipe over and over- never a failure!

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thank you dear charlie. i was thinking about you as i mixed the no knead bread. that has a much lower hydration and about 90% of the gluten development is done just by the rising but the focaccia is a completely different texture and type of bread and has so much more water. in fact, it is unlike any bread i've ever seen before.

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There are no words of thanks that I have for everything Ive leaned form you and your books... CANT WAIT for Heavenly Cakes!

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the only way to develop the gluten in a bread of this extraordinarily high water content is by beating this long. there is so much water there is no need to let it sit for 20 minutes to absorb as there's almost more water than the flour CAN absorb. bottom line: it works. if you want to let it sit 20 minutes and see if you perceive a difference it will not do any harm though i can't see it doing any good either!

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I hope Im not being a "nudge". But would you help me understand why... it seems that the 20 min of kneading would cause a lot of oxidation... wouldnt a rest help prevent that..

On the otherh and Im thinking that perhaps this bread is served while still warm (DELICIOUSLY AMAZING I MIGHT ADD) and the loss of wheat flavor would be covered by the warmth any way..

Please explain.. curiosity of trying to make sence of the process of them whenn and whys is driving me batty..

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no need for autolyse when this high a hydration--trust me!

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I was wondering why you wouldnt use the autolyse ethod when making this bread.. please help me understand bread baking better...

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Hi!

Rose, I would like to report that the rosemary focaccia is going as per your wonderful instructions.

I have, this morning, already attempted the dough 2 times. The first time, the puddle refused to ball up around the paddle and I almost gave up until I remembered what you always say about things going wrong- I've either changed something or something is wrong with the ingredients. True to form, I bought new flour and yeast to replace my of-questionable-age ingredients, and voila, melted mozzarella- to the letter!

I hope this lifts your spirits in the midst of your hectic work on the new book!

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the good news is you said there will be a next time!

marie wolf and i became friends over this bread and her initial failure with it. she told me when we met that she never thought i would write back.
now you MUST try the tom cat filone she turned me onto from maggie glazer's book. if you don't see it put filone or my new best bread friend in the search engine. this is not a challenging bread it is just plain fantastic!

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Ohhhh, Rose! It is better than I could have imagined- light as air, bubbly, tasty- totally worth all the effort. If anyone has any doubts or failed the first go-round, I would advise them to try again. I just wish I had a piece of cheese and a glass of wine to go with this. I tried to take a picture before I ripped into it, but the memory card on my daughter's camera is full- damn- and I don't know how to fix it. Next time, I promise.

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i share your excitement and lucky you to have found the perfect proofing device! when i tasted it again chez marie wolf i remembered why it was worth all the trouble!

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OMG, Rose, this thing is gorgeous- the bubbling, rising dough, I mean. I have it in the half-sheet pan, merrily rising- I swear I can almost hear it singing. I was at a loss as to what to use to cover it for its final rise, and was rummaging through the garage and spotted the seldom-used Nesco roaster's lid- guess what- it fits perfectly over a half-sheet pan, with plenty of room to spare for the dough to rise. I am happy. I have olive oil with fresh garlic and herbes-de-provence waiting to slather on top of the dough beofre it is baked. Can't wait....

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i was holding my breathe!!!

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I am glad to know that I am not alone! My first attempt with the rosemary focaccia this morning was a disaster...I don't know if I mis-measured the flour or what but the dough remained the consistency of pancake batter- literally. Okay, I thought, I will try to bake this anyway, but um, no. Not a good idea. So, undaunted, I tried again and VOILA! after less than 10 minutes I had the glistening melted-mozzarella consistency that I was looking for. Whew.....my faith in my baking skills (and in Rose's recipes!) is restored. The second batch is rising and I can't wait to taste it. Thanks, Rose!

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brian--thanks for the terrific note. i'm delighted you're having such great success with the recipe.
it's almost midnight here on the east coast but i'm waiting for some brownies to come out of the oven so still up! (but not for long)planning the cranberry walnut bread for chicken sandwiches on the way to salt lake city next weekend for annual ski trip.

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Rose,

I received your Bread Bible for Christmas and started using it to make breads soon after. I never made bread in my life before, but I really enjoy it (although it is cutting into my learning cake baking which I started last summer after getting the Cake Bible!).

I have to complement you on how wonderful the Bread Bible is. So far I've made the Levy's Rye, the Olive bread, the Prosciutto ring, your variation of the no-knead bread, and tonight the rosemary focaccia. During the course of making these I've used the stand mixer method, the food processor method and the by-hand method. Your instuctructions are absolutely impeccable. Every bread I have made so far has been exactly as you describe it in the book - from the biga, to the kneading, proofing, shaping - everything - it has been absolutely wonderful. (I am also quite anal when it comes to using the exact ingredients and measuring everything - so much so that I drive my family crazy.)

I realize from the blog that there were some comments on finding the rosemary focaccia in the BB challenging, but it was exactly as you described. It took about 28 minutes for the dough to form a smooth shiny ball, but after the dough raised for 4 hours and again during the final proof, it was so light and bubbly, it was amazing. The only thing I may do differenly the next time is use a little less oil in the pan and on top. I used the heaping tablespoon in the BB recipe and I noticed that the recipe using Harvest King on the blog uses a little less, which I think would be just perfect.

Thank you again for making it so easy for novices to discover the wonders of baking.

Brian

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