A recent interest in the world of homemade pizza baking has left me with multiple little balls of dough wrapped and waiting in my fridge. Since I’d always been a big fan of pizza crust, I experimented with baking a few of these to form an easy homemade focaccia. The results were wonderful and I now see no reason to ever purchase focaccia in a bakery when freshly baked, warm focaccia is so easy to prepare at home.
If you keep prepared dough in your fridge or freezer, these bake up as quickly as 7 minutes (after a brief rise) and would make a lovely surprise in your dinner bread basket or served along eggs with breakfast. The dough puffs up in various spots and is soft, and the perfect amount of chewy. One thing to remember is that the dough should be prepared at least 24 hours ahead so that the yeast has a time to develop and give the dough a great flavor. The dough will get better each day and can be refrigerated up to four days (freeze if you plan to wait longer).
Though wonderful plain and brushed with just a hint of olive oil and sprinkle of kosher salt, I prefer topping with a sprinkle of finely chopped rosemary and minced garlic for an incredibly fragrant and savory treat. My boyfriend compared these to a “most delicious garlic knot,” but more delicate and less greasy. You could experiment with some thinly sliced onions in my next batch, but I think the simple herbs really are the perfect complement to the lovely dough.
The dough recipe I used is adapted from Peter Reinhart’s popular one for pizza dough and the batch makes enough for six five-inch round focaccia rolls.
Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia Rolls
Makes six 5" rolls
For the Dough:
4 1/2 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups ice cold water
For the Focaccia:
¼ cup olive oil
6 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary (1 teaspoon per roll)
3 small cloves of garlic, finely minced
fresh cracked pepper
To make the dough:
Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in the base of an electric mixer. Add the olive oil and the cold water until it is all completely absorbed. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is smooth and completely pulls away from the sides while still sticking to the bottom (it will look like a dough tornado). Add extra tablespoons of water or flour as needed to achieve this effect.
Once kneaded, deposit onto a floured surface and cut the dough into six equal sized balls. Roll until smooth and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment and greased with olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours or up to 4 days.
To make the focaccia:
When ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge and allow to reach room temperature. Preheat your oven as high as it will go (usually 500-550 with home ovens).
Prepare a new baking sheet with clean parchment paper and set aside.Use your fingers to flatten out the dough balls until they are about 4-5 inches in diameter. Place on baking sheet about 1.5 inches apart.
Use your fingers to poke little dents in the bread rounds. About 8 or so in each roll.
Brush generously with olive oil and sprinkle each roll with about 1 teaspoon rosemary and ½ of a minced garlic clove.
Salt generously with kosher salt and finish off with freshly cracked pepper.
Let rise for 10-15 minutes before placing in the oven to bake.
Bake in the oven for about 5-7 minutes or until the rolls are all puffed and slightly golden around the edges. Remove and serve immediately as bread rolls or let cool on wire rack if using for sandwiches.