This bread is great for sandwiches or with soup or salads, or for dinner instead of a traditional roll. For tailgating or picnics, you can use the entire focaccia to make festive sandwiches as follows: Using a serated knife, slice the entire focaccia through the center to form two rounds. Place sandwich fillings on the cut side of the bottom half of the focaccia, then top with the remaining focaccia round. Slice the entire round into pie-shaped wedges.
Makes two 9-inch round loaves
2 1/4 cups warm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
One 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. Place the water, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl; stir once or twice just to mix. Let stand in a warm place 5 to 7 minutes, until small bubbles form on top.
3. Mix 5 1/2 cups of the flour and salt in a large bowl and stir to blend. Make a well in the center of the flour and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the yeast mixture. Stir to combine until the dough begins to stick together. Add remaining flour as needed.
4. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to a lightly floured work surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place the dough inthe bowl, turning to coat the dough lightly with the oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place 30 to 45 minutes, until dough has almost doubled in size.
5. Remove the dough from the bowl, punch down, and divide into 2 pieces. Set aside to rest 10 to 15 minutes. Roll the dough into two 9-inch rounds, about 1/2 to 1 inch thick, and place on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the focaccia is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.