Rosemary Focaccia Bread

This is a terrific addition to any meal, especially Italian. This recipe comes from the New Best Recipe, although I’ve adapted it to use potato flakes (I have quite a few of those on hand). The result is terrific–very moist and flavorful. You can also experiment with different toppings: sliced olives, sundried tomatoes, different herb assortments, parmesan cheese, etc. It’s definitely a repeater!

Rosemary Focaccia Bread with Olive Oil

3 1/2 c. flour (can substitute up to 1 1/2 c. with whole wheat flour)
1 c. warm water
1 1/2 t. yeast
1 1/2 t. salt
1 c. mashed potatoes (either from flakes or previously cooked and mashed)
2 T. olive oil plus more for the pans

In a standing mixer or small bowl, combine 1/2 c. flour, 1/2 c. water and the yeast. Cover tightly with plastic and let stand for 20 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring on the low setting, and then, with the paddle attachment, knead for 5 minutes, until the dough comes together and is smooth.

Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for one hour, until puffy and doubled. Meanwhile, prepare a 10 x 15″ rimmed cookie sheet pan by generously greasing it with oil (alternately, you can place the dough on a larger pan and stretch it to app. 10 x 15″). With wet hands (the dough will be sticky), turn the dough onto the cookie sheet. Spread it as well as you can (you may have to let it rest 15 minutes, covered, and then stretch it some more), and then cover it again with plastic wrap and let double, about 45-60 minutes.

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Right before baking, with wet fingers, makes dents in the dough to hold olive oil and herbs (you can use the tips of your pointer and middle finger). Then drizzle olive oil and fresh rosemary on top of the bread (or any other fresh herb, or parmesan cheese, or olives or sundried tomatoes, etc.) and sprinkle with coarse salt, to your taste.  Bake for 23-25 minutes, until the bread is browned.

Serve warm from the oven.

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