I know that you would probably NEVER want to do this, but just in case there might be a time when you have the inclination, I thought I'd clue you in. I'm talking about driving your neighbors crazy, as in out-of-their-minds-crazy. It's simple, all you have to do is whip up a batch of this Lemon, Rosemary, Thyme Focaccia.
You'll see exactly what I mean: the aroma that will waft from your kitchen will be beyond amazing. Imagine the intoxicating smell of yeast bread baking, then add fresh herbs, lemon and a bit of spice .......... like I said, it is enough to make the entire neighborhood line up at your door swooning and looking so pitifully hungry that you'll wish you'd made a double batch.
Lemon, Rosemary, Thyme Focaccia bread is a flavorful Italian-inspired flatbread is amazing with any dinner, served warm in the bread basket. It also makes fabulous sandwiches, sliced horizontally and stacked high with your choice of fillings. Cut it in pie-shaped wedges and you'll have happy takers for lunch, brunch or casual dinners. We love a smear of pesto, sliced roasted chicken, tomato, avocado and a few slices of smoky bacon .......... now that's a sandwich!
I also serve this delicious focaccia, cut in wedges or slices with soups and salads. It's great for dipping in olive oil or balsamic vinegar and it makes a wonderful, unique base for bruschetta; just slice it horizontally and cut in small wedges (like a pie). A light brushing with olive oil and a short stint in a hot oven will produce crisp, golden crostini, perfect for your favorite toppings.
I don't really think you should drive your neighbors crazy but if you want to delight them and/or earn their eternal gratitude, just bag up one of these golden Lemon, Rosemary, Thyme Focaccia breads, tie with a pretty ribbon and knock on their door.
You probably won't be around when they take the first bite, but trust me they'll be lots of oohing, aahing and fond thoughts of you.
P.S. Oh, and if you're not into kneading, there's good news! If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, it does ALL of the work.!
- For the dough:
- 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast*
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- lemon zest from 1 small lemon
- For the herb drizzle:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- lemon zest from 1 small lemon
- sea salt
Combine milk and brown sugar. Warm in microwave for 1 ½ minutes or until about 110-115˚F. When you stick a finger into the mixture, it should feel hot, but not so hot that it's uncomfortable. If it's not warm enough, place back in microwave and cook at 15 second intervals till temperature is correct. If you're new to yeast, I recommend using a thermometer. They're very inexpensive. Once the liquid is the right temperature add yeast and stir. Let stand until bubbly*, about 5 minutes. Add 2 Tbs. of the olive oil.
Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, mix the flour, salt, rosemary, thyme and lemon zest. Add the yeast mixture and mix until a soft dough forms, about 2 minutes. Continue to mix with dough hook for 5 minutes.
Move the dough to one side of the mixer bowl, drizzle a bit of olive oil into empty side of bowl and then turn the dough until lightly greased. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk (size), about 1 hour.
Combine all of the ingredients for the herb drizzle in a small microwave-safe container. Cook on high for 30 seconds to release the herb oil and flavor. Set aside to cool.
Use two 9-inch or 3 8-inch pans for baking. Add about 1 teaspoon of olive oil to each pan. Punch down the dough, divide in 2 or 3 fairly equal pieces (depending if you are using 2 9-inch or 3 8-inch pans. Plop a piece of dough into each pan and turn over a few times to coat all sides with oil. With your fingers pat and poke each piece of dough to spread it out to cover the bottom of the pan completely. If dough is resistant, let it sit for a few minutes then continue patting it out. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk. The time it takes the dough to rise will vary, depending on how warm your kitchen is. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 425°F.
Using your fingertips, press down firmly into the dough to make dimples about ½ inch apart and 1 inch deep. Drizzle the herb oil evenly over the 3 pans of dough. Gently rub with your fingers to evenly distribute the oil. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and let sit for another 15 minutes.
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Slide the focaccia onto wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with fresh thyme and rosemary leaves, if desired.
May also be frozen. Let them cool completely, then transfer to zippered bags and freeze. To serve after freezing, thaw, wrap in foil and warm in a 350˚F oven for about 5 minutes.