Monday, August 22, 2016

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives, Cheese, and Rosemary

This bread actually started out as an idea for a sandwich. Well, it started with salad, but then it quickly turned into a Salad Nicoise sandwich with tuna and kalamata olives.

I decided that foccacia would be the perfect vehicle for my sandwich, and I decided to embed the olives in the bread. I mean, why not?

The bread was also a great way to use a new flavored olive oil I got from a company called Pasolivo. They have a lot of flavored oils, but the one they sent me was a rosemary oil. I adore rosemary, but it can be kind of strong, so I was fairly conservative with it here - I just used it for drizzling on top of the bread. The rosemary flavor isn't super-strong, but that's exactly what I wanted - a hint of rosemary that would compliment the olives and the final sandwich, without overpowering.

If you're using this bread as a stand-alone and you want more rosemary flavor, you could drizzle more oil on right after baking, or substitute rosemary olive oil for the regular olive oil in the dough. Or, even more fun, you could use the rosemary olive oil as a dipping oil for the bread.

Because I'm still in love with my new grain mill, I ground my own whole wheat flour for this. If you don't have a grain mill, of course you can buy flour. It's what most folks do, right? But ... if you want a grain mill ... well, check out this post.

Whole Wheat Focaccia with Olives, Cheese, and Rosemary

4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) bread flour
4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) whole wheat flour (I used freshly ground flour)
1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) semolina flour
2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star* active dry yeast
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water (or more, as needed)
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 tablespoon Pasolivo rosemary-flavored olive oil
1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
1/4 to 1/2 shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, semolina flour, yeast, cheddar cheese, sugar, salt, water, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix slowly with the dough hook until it comes together. The dough should be soft and sticky at this point. If it's not soft, and is dense instead, add more water as needed.

I've found that freshly-ground flour tends to require less water, so if you're using store-bought whole wheat flour, you're likely to need another 1/4 cup of water, or possibly a little more.

Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is elastic.

Cover the bowl and set aside until doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has risen drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into a quarter-sheet baking pan. Turn the dough out onto the pan and stretch, poke, and cajole the dough to fit the pan. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cover the pan (another quarter-sheet pan turned upside-down makes a great lid) and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drizzle the rosemary olive oil onto the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the top of the dough randomly. Top the dough with the kalamata olives, spreading them evenly over the dough. Push the olives into the dough. Scatter the mozzarella cheese over the top of the dough. If you want more cheese, I wouldn't say no. But remember - it's not pizza.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through the baking time if your oven tends to bake unevenly.

Let the focaccia cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Remember that sandwich?

I cut a piece of the focaccia in half and added mayonnaise, tomato, and tuna. It was really good.

*If you use a brand other than Red Star, let it soften in the water before adding the other ingredients.

I received the Pasolivo Rosemary Olive Oil as a sample for review. I decided to use it in a recipe, instead.