lemon and sea salt = magic.

I’m taking part in #BreakingBread with this month’s bread, focaccia (thus the slightly earlier post)! Take a gander over at Cake Duchess’s blog for all the yummy focaccias baked this month, and to learn more about the Breaking Bread Society. It’s a pretty neat idea.

Today is my very first day of self-employment. As in, I’m doing the freelance writing/blogging thing full-time. As in, I get to bake for a living. As in, I can’t believe this is actually happening. As in, I’m peeing my pants from excitement while simultaneously freaking out that I’m going to fail, hard. Being your own boss is a tricky thing.

Leave it to me to think I’m already not doing it right. I’m a Class A worrier and my toughest critic. But when I woke up this morning, put on my big girl pants and got to work (as in, baking, as in, I still can’t believe this!), I knew there was only one way I could start this new career path of mine off on the right foot — with focaccia.

This lemon and sea salt focaccia caught my eye — nay, grabbed me by the collar, shook me and said, “MAKE ME NOW!” (all very nicely, of course) — the other day and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Not in the I-had-a-nightmare-that-burned-itself-on-the-inside-of-my-eyelids sort of way, but in a you-sound-so-delicious-I-must-make-you sort of way. The kind of way that swells a baker’s heart knowing that this bread, this salty, savory, olive oil-y beauty, would without a doubt be a success. And indeed, it was.

I’m going the step-by-step route today, friends. So join me!

yeast + bubbles.

First, dissolve the yeast in a bit of lukewarm water. You don’t want the water to be too hot, or the yeast won’t bubble up. Let it sit for about 5 minutes until tiny bubbles form and the mixture gets a little foamy.

shaggy dough.

Next, combine all the dough ingredients until a shaggy dough forms.

dough, kneaded.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and knead the bread for about 3-4 minutes, adding more flour as needed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. We’re not kneading this bread too much, so it can be just a bit sticker than normal.

pre-doubled.

Put the dough and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a bowl, roll it around and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled.

post-doubled.

LIKE THIS.

dough in the pan.

Press the dough into a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet (mine was 11 by 17 inches, but if you don’t have that size, you can divide the dough into two smaller pans or four 8-inch round cake pans). Cover with a cooling rack, and cover that with a damp cloth (so the cloth isn’t directly on the bread). Let the bread rise until puffy, about 30 to 45 minutes.

the good stuff.

Meanwhile, chop up some fresh rosemary, thinly slice some lemon and get out some coarse sea salt.

dimples and herbs.

Poke the puffy bread lightly with your fingertips to form dimples, then drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle it with the rosemary.

IMG_6665

Now top it with lemon slices and sea salt, followed by more olive oil.

lemons. sea salt. rosemary. oil.

Gah, it’s just so gorgeous, I. Can’t. Even.

lemon and sea salt focaccia.

Bake the bread until it’s a glorious golden brown. It’s OK, you can stare at it for a bit.

focaccia ftw.

Drizzle it with more olive oil and cut it into slices. Take a bite and bask in the knowledge that you just made a seriously delicious focaccia bread. No sweat.

I’m not sure how this new freelance writing/blogging journey is going to turn out, but I’m hoping for the best. And if this focaccia has anything to say about it, I think nothing but good things are in store.

Lemon and Sea Salt Focaccia
Adapted from The Kitchn

Yields: 1 11-by-17 inch loaf or 4 8-inch round loaves

Ingredients:
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for lining the baking sheet/cake pans and for drizzling
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
Leaves of 2-4 branches fresh rosemary
2 lemons, washed and very thinly sliced into rounds
coarse sea salt

Directions:
In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast with 1/2 cup lukewarm water; let stand 5 minutes until foamy. Add 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons olive oil and stir.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour and salt. Add yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or paddle attachment until just combined. Knead dough on a lightly floured countertop until smooth, about 5 minutes; OR, replace paddle attachment with dough hook and knead in stand mixer on medium, adding just a bit more flour as needed until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3-4 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roll dough in oil and cover bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Brush an 11-by-17 inch baking sheet lightly with olive oil (or 4 8-inch round cake pans) and punch down dough. Spread dough with fingers to cover the entire inside bottom of the baking sheet (or divide dough in quarters and spread in cake pans). The dough might resist a bit, but with a little persistence it’ll start to behave. Cover with a cooling rack topped with a damp towel so the towel doesn’t touch the dough (or just cover the cake pans with damp towels) and let rise until puffy, about 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Uncover dough and poke lightly with fingertips to create dimples. Drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh rosemary leaves. Top with sliced lemon and sprinkle with sea salt. Drizzle on more olive oil.
Bake bread until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Let cool slightly before slicing.

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