I needed to do this then because once it was stirred together, it had to sit around for almost 18 hours before we could work with it. The dough was a basic mixture of bread flour, white whole wheat flour, yeast, cheese, salt and icy cold water. Cold water you say? Don't most yeast breads require warm water? Well, since this recipe is basically a no-knead bread, using cold water will slow the yeast way down, allowing for a well-developed flavor and texture, without having to pay much attention or putting a lot of muscle into it. The only real work last night was grating a bit of fresh Parmesan to mix in!
After breakfast this morning, I did give the risen dough a quick stir, but if it isn't convenient, you don't have to. Once the time was up and I had time to work with the dough, we gently deflated the moist and bubbly dough. Before we scooped it into the baking pan, we sprinkled the dough with a heavy tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary - don't be tempted to mix in though, just add it to the top and dump the dough into the pan. While I've never had any issues, the recipe did state that sometimes certain herbs can inhibit the yeast if they are incorporated into the dough, so why risk it?
Drizzling your best extra-virgin olive oil over the dough is next, followed by smooshing it out to cover the bottom of the pan. If the dough starts to pull back and shrink into itself, walk away for 10 minutes to give the gluten a chance to rest and then continue. With a sprinkle of extra Parmesan and more fragrant rosemary, the dough is covered and set aside to rise again. After giving the dough a sprinkle of water, I gently pushed my fingertips all over the top of the dough to form small divots and deeper indents - this relieves some of the bubbling that will happen as it bakes. Giving a sprinkling of coarse sea salt right before going into the oven, this bread bakes long enough until the very light top transforms into a gorgeous golden brown color.
With the mesmerizing smell of freshly baked bread lingering through the house, it was sure giving our patience a run for its money, trying to let the bread cool before tearing into it. Biting through the crispier outside and into the chewy inside, I loved how the vibrance of the fresh rosemary stood out, but still let the core of the bread be the dominating flavor. The zing of the coarse salt on top was a novel touch as well. To vary the herb, or if rosemary doesn't get you excited, swap it out for fresh oregano and even some chopped chives. I have a feeling we are going to finish this entire focaccia in record time, but I know it will be made again for the simple fact that we both can't wait to try it halved and used for the bread in a sandwich and panini!