It is odd not having even an herb garden this year, but that is the story for another day (hint: a puppy is involved, and lucky for her she’s a cutie). My neighbor T doesn’t technically have an herb garden, but there are several large rosemary bushes in his back yard. “Help yourself, anytime!” he’d tell me. So, I started small. Just a snip here and there from the bush next to our low, shared fence. When that started to flower, I welcomed myself into his yard one day while he was out doing some pruning. “Help yourself, anytime!” he repeated. This weekend he showed up at our door with a handful of aromatic rosemary trimmings. “The bush on the far side of the yard is the best now, help yourself!” I tell ya, neighbors like this are gold.
So here I was holding a handful of rosemary and the desire to try something new. Focaccia! Yes, I know that this bread is not exactly a new item on the world’s menu, but it involved yeast, and yeast is not generally my friend. But I had LOTS of rosemary, so if the first batch didn’t work, I could try again. And, even if the bread didn’t turn out beautifully, the house would smell divine!
Knowing that working with yeast require a decent thermometer, and only finding a meat / roast type, I jerry – rigged up a little doo-dad with bit of painters’ tape that did the trick nicely. There is a story behind the lack of a glass thermometer also, but there is nothing cute involved, so I will spare you those details. 🙂 After a bit of a recipe search, I found one that used honey, and since I still have some of that yummy local honey, I went for that.
So, here we go. And remember, even if this doesn’t work out perfectly for you the first time, the aroma in your house alone is worth it!
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
Combine boiling water, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and honey in a large bowl; cool to 100° to 110°. Sprinkle yeast over honey mixture; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 3 1/4 cups flour, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon salt to honey mixture, stirring to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down. Pat dough into a 14 x 12-inch rectangle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350º.
Uncover dough. Make indentations in top of dough using handle of a wooden spoon or your fingertips. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon water, and egg yolk; brush over dough. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with remaining rosemary and sea salt.
Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool on a wire rack.