Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rosemary Focaccia

First Bread Bible Bake

The Bread Bible Alpha Bakers launched this week with rosemary focaccia.
The first time I tasted focaccia was in San Francisco at a little pizzeria on Green Street.  Huge pans of pizza in the window stopped us in our tracks.  

Golden Boy Pizza

The combinations were not the typical with or without mushroom choices.  This was back in 1980, before pesto was a household name.
Inside people stood knee deep eating  pizza.  Every stool was taken, all three tables filled. Behind the counter the pizza maker kneaded dough.  He was crammed among pans, sacks of flour and  proofing buckets with barely enough room to turn around. .

One bite and  we were forever ruined.  
Pizza would never be the same.

Edging our way through the crowd we asked the man what kind of pizza we were eating... 


Never heard of it.  He was a gregarious fountain of information.  Many questions later, we learned just about everything there was to know about focaccia.  For instance, fog in San Francisco directly affects the quality of the dough.  Hot days ruin it.  The foggier the day, the better the focaccia.  

 The guy was hilarious.  Is there anything more infectious than someone who is passionate about their work?

That was what,  thirty five years ago?  We still risk life and limb, navigating the car up the steepest hills in SF.  It's a game of  jockeying for a double parked space, jump out, run in and grab pizza to go.

Sunday was the day to try my hand at making focaccia.  First step,  poaching garlic in warm olive oil.  Honestly, it didn't seem like much was happening until I tasted a clove.  It  was mild and didn't have that sharp bite.

Mixing up the dough taxed a twenty five year old Kitchen Aid.   Soon a giant lump of dough resembling mozzarella wrapped around the paddle. 

So far, so good.

 The stretchy dough was peeled then placed into an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap and shut away in the microwave for four hours,  Thankfully it more than doubled in less than the required time.  

Turned onto an oiled half sheet pan, it was left to rise for another hour.   I  decided not to use the garlic cloves, afraid of deflating the bubbles.  In fact, I was leery of stretching the dough at all.

More garlic oil drizzled over the top with chopped rosemary, sea salt and into the oven.

I was stunned to open the oven door and see golden focaccia.

The first slice revealed a light and airy bread.  I learned from reading that focaccia is the highest of the Italian flatbreads.  So different than commercial focaccia .And surprisingly easy to make. 

A quick batch of pesto and we were in business!


Nothing short of a yeast miracle.  

Years ago I followed Marie's Breadbasketcase  chronicles and felt quite envious there wasn't a bake along.  My Bread Bible book had been sitting on a shelf for years.  I read it like fiction.    

Making the Baking Bible Swedish Apricot Bread  planted a seed.  When I posed the question to the Alpha Bakers FB group in reply to Michele's question about bread shape during baking, there was instant enthusiasm.  Not a tech person, I knew there was no way I could host such a thing.  Luckily, Glori is. She picked up the torch and ran with it.  Plus it turns out she has hidden talents.  Being a professional photographer,  she set up a beautiful blog for all our Bread Bible adventures. 

 Here we are less than a month later going full steam ahead!  It's going to be a yeasty learning curve for the next few years.  Safe to say we are excited  for the challenge.

Released in 2003,  The Bread Bible is still in print and available to buy  on Amazon, Barnes and Noble  and Alibris .along with Rose Levy Beranbaum's other baking and cooking books.  


  1. i love your focaccia story! now next time i go to SF i'm going to have to insist on going there. if i didn't have a one year old twining around my ankles i would have totally joined you guys. i followed marie back then, too. excited to watch your bread skills bloom!

  2. Well done!! Love that focaccia makes us both think immediately of Golden Boys :)

  3. Oh..those are garlics! At first I was wondering why you were making fishballs..LOL! They looked to me like fishballs for fishball noodles soup with that ladle! :D Your focaccia looks awesome! :D Must have tasted so good with those garlic and pesto!

  4. What a great post, Vicki. Thanks for mentioning me but without all of the other Alpha Bakers jumping on board, it would have never happened. So glad you are part of it. Now I want to go to San Francisco!

  5. Hi Vicki: You are right--a yeast miracle! Your focaccia is gorgeous! I love this recipe! I am going to make this one often. I am so glad we are doing this bake along! It's going to be great!!

  6. I admired your focaccia but it didn't show. Hope it doesn't duplicate.