This focaccia is light and delicately flavored with olive oil and rosemary. Spelt flour gives it a softly sweet, earthy flavor and packs in more nutritional value than conventional flour. It is perfect alongside a bowl of soup or a salad, as a snack, or as a base for countless toppings of vegetables, meat, and cheese.
Focaccia, an oven-baked Italian flatbread, is similar to pizza dough. It is like a blank slate on which you can add a variety of toppings. In this recipe, the focaccia is simply topped with olive oil, coarse sea salt, and fresh rosemary. I based my recipe on one by Paul Kahan, which I found on the Food & Wine website. His recipe calls for topping the focaccia with kale, squash, and pecorino cheese, which sounds absolutely delicious. However, the other day, I was just looking for a simple, flavorful bread to use as a side with our dinner of leftover soups, so I left off the vegetable toppings in this case, since we already had a lot of vegetables in the soups, and I wanted just bread.
This bread is lovely. It is easy to make. Maybe a little time-consuming, yes, because it has to rise twice. But the actual hands-on time is not much. It’s good to make on a day when you will be home for about three hours, but the good part is you can do lots of things around the house while the dough is rising and baking.
Spelt flour comes from an ancient whole grain, and though it does contain gluten, its gluten is more fragile and water soluble, so it is easier to digest than conventional wheat flours. Spelt also has more iron, fiber, and B vitamins than conventional flours. I am not about to give up wheat flours, but it is really nice to add some variety to our diet, and I really like the slightly nutty, slightly earthy taste of spelt flour.
The spelt flour does not need to be kneaded as much as conventional wheat flour, and tends to create a stickier dough. This surprised me a bit the first time I worked with it. But don’t worry, even if it feels sticky when you are forming the dough on the baking sheet, it bakes beautifully. And if your dough gets too sticky to work with, you can add a bit of all-purpose flour as well. I love the flexibility of bread-making, because you can always add a bit of flour or a bit of water or olive oil, and things usually work out! I also love the flexibility of focaccia, and I expect I will be making it again soon, either with spelt flour, conventional flour, or a combination, and maybe next time topped with some vegetables.
My fingers are soft from the olive oil and they smell wonderful, like rosemary. As I was making this spelt focaccia with rosemary, I was once again struck by the primal comfort I feel when working with dough. There must be something deep within my genetic makeup that calls me to the kitchen to bake. It is deeply rewarding and comforting to me. And everyone in my family enjoyed this bread–that is a bonus!
The other day, I came across a quote that struck a chord with me. I was waiting for our car to be repaired, reading an online article on bonappetit.com. The article is written by Jenny Rosenstrach and Andy Ward, known for the great blog, Dinner: A Love Story. If you are ever tired, discouraged, or frustrated about making dinner for others, remember this quote from that article: “Don’t ever let someone convince you that cooking a meal for your kids–or anyone else for that matter–is one more thing to check off the to-do list. Every time you feed someone, you’re offering love, security, comfort, therapy, and memories shrouded in happiness and warmth. It’s no small thing.”
I just love that quote, and I agree wholeheartedly with it. We all have our unique ways of cooking and putting meals on the table, and it’s not always easy, but never forget how important it is. I hope you all have a great weekend! It’s March! It came in like a lion, but hopefully spring will be here soon!Now it’s time to head over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Angie and Laura @ Feast Wisely.
Spelt Focaccia with Rosemary
- 2 cups of spelt flour
- 1 envelope of dry active yeast
- 1 cup of warm water
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt, plus coarse sea salt for sprinkling at baking time
- 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
In a large mixing bowl, combine the spelt flour, yeast, warm (make sure your water is luke-warm and not hot) water, honey, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, not more than a minute. If the dough is too sticky, you can add some more spelt flour or a couple tablespoons of all-purpose flour to make it easier to work with.
Clean out the mixing bowl or get another one and oil it lightly with olive oil. Place the dough in the oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour, or until it about doubles in size.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch the dough down and then transfer it to the baking sheet. Gently press it into a 12 x 8 inch oval shape. If it is too sticky, put some flour on your hands to make it easier to shape the dough. Then brush about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of olive oil over the dough. Press small indentations all over the dough with your finger and then sprinkle evenly with the coarse sea salt and rosemary. Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the focaccia for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Enjoy as a side for a bowl of soup or a salad, or as a snack!
This recipe is adapted from Paul Kahan’s recipe on the Food & Wine website.