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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bread Bible: Rosemary Foccacia

Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into...

In addition to baking through The Baking Bible, the Alpha Bakers decided to bake through The Bread Bible as well, with a once a month frequency. It took me about 5 minutes to decide to join. In that 5 minutes a lot of thoughts went through my head. Pros: I really want to improve my bread baking skills. I want to bake through The Bread Bible after Rose's Heavenly Cakes but lack motivation. This is my chance. Cons: I have already a lot of things going on. Can I really take on one more? My knitting is a tad neglected nowadays- which makes me sad sometimes. Now adding baking through the Bread Bible into the equation. Pros: I really want to do this and can't say no (this is not a legitimate reason, but it is according to that baking-loving-evil-voice in my head). Cons: Who's gonna eat it?

I am here now, which means the baking-loving-evil-voice won. As to who's gonna eat it, we'll eat some and give away some.

Glori said we are going to follow Marie's adventure and her schedule as a template. Reading through Marie's experience on making Rosemary Foccacia has me worried. Marie's first attempt at this bread didn't turn out. But then I take comfort in the fact that Marie is a super awesome baker now and has nailed recipes from various other books including Tartine Bread. Tartine Bread! I borrowed it once from the library, leafed through it and returned it promptly. It was too intimidating to even attempt.

I am not a big fan of foccacia. It always seem super oily in restaurants that I always feel like I'm eating oil. I have nothing against oil, especially olive oil, except I always thought if I'm gonna eat oil I might as well skip the bread. Why add carbs to it when I have to burn walk it off later. So my plan is to make 1/2 recipe and then take it to my local yarn store to share.

As it turns out, my first attempt of this bread fails miserably. Just like Marie's experience. I was so devastated and confused. I followed the instructions, or at least I thought I did. The next day, when I tried to make this again, as I was getting ready to weigh my ingredients, it dawned on me what the reason could be. Flour! I am using store brand unbleached AP flour, whereas Rose specified "use only Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillbury". I bet the brand I use (Whole Foods) has lower protein content. On this hunch, I substituted some of the flour, using 1/2 King Arthur Bread Flour and 1/2 the unbleached AP flour.

And the hunch paid off! Phew!

I like the bread. I am not wowed by it but it is because I am not a big foccacia fan to begin with. These are better than the restaurant version though since it is a lot less oil. I can imagine this would be good with some pasta. Spaghetti and meatballs, maybe? Hmm... Now I'm hungry.

Step by step photos (attempt #1):

Unbleached AP flour and yeast.

Plus water.

After 20 minutes. (channeling Bridget Jones' british accent) It looks like lumpy soup.

Does not look bad in this form.

After 4 hours rising.

Flat (or flattened) soup.

After 1 1/2 hours = bubbly soup.


Crispy soup.

Stuck in pan....

Though failed, attempt #1 is half eaten by the evening. Hubby said "your bread is crispy. I like it." I find the texture a bit funny because of the high water content and how flat it is, but I was hungry so I joined hubby in eating it :).

Step by step photos (attempt #2) :

I was not about to sit and listen to the KA on speed #4 for 20 minutes again, so I moved the mixer from the countertop to the floor, in case it would fall off in the 20 minutes. Set the timer, look at my watch and left to the basement. After 20 minutes the mixer has moved 3 feet!!! If it had been on the countertop it would have fallen off and damaged the nice floor (not to mention probably killed the mixer).

Flour and yeast.

Action shot of adding water.

20 minutes on #4.

After 14 minutes it has already formed into a ball. Wohoo!

Placed in oiled 1 qt bowl, mark the sides with post it tape.

It overflowed after 3 1/2 hours.

Things are a bit more promising at this step since the dough is resisting to be coaxed, just as Rose said in the book. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

Looks better.

After 1 1/2 hour.

Sprinkle with EVOO, dried rosemary, fleur de sel, and freshly ground black pepper.

I baked it for 13 minutes but it would not brown. Add another 5 minutes and took it out looking like this. It looks much better with brown spots, however, the downside is one side of the bread has stuck to the pan.

To be soaked.

Close up shot.


  1. Glad your second attempt turned out great! Did you half your bread dough? Seems like smaller in portion. I half the olive oil too..I worry it might be too soggy with oil. Mine stuck to the pan too because I used less oil as recommended on the pan.

    1. Faithy, yes I made 1/2 recipe hehe.. I used half the olive oil but it's 1/2 recipe so it shouldn't stuck to the pan. Oh well, next time it'll be better!

    2. I am thinking of making half recipe for the caramel for the caramel buns... at this rate of baking, I think i also better make half recipe of the buns too. :D

    3. I am going to make 1/2 recipe for the caramel buns. And definitely will make smaller portion of the caramel - maybe even 1/2. Caramel is too rich/sweet for me - I think for you too.

  2. It looks wonderful, Jenn! I really love this recipe. I'm going to be making this again. I think I used too much oil on the pan and will be more judicious next time with that.

  3. It looks wonderful, Jenn! I really love this recipe. I'm going to be making this again. I think I used too much oil on the pan and will be more judicious next time with that.

  4. Thanks SO much for detailed tutorial

  5. Kudos to you for trying again. Both versions look great.


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