Happy weekend! Today I’m sharing this recipe for rosemary and meyer lemon focaccia as part of the Virtual Vegan Potluck! (Potluck navigation buttons are at the bottom of this post).
I also made a bread course for the last VVP: this scrumptious beet rye bread. That was my first time participating in the potluck and I got to know a ton of other awesome vegan blogs. It was also (*drumroll please*) my first photo ever to be accepted to Foodgawker. For someone who still, a year later, considers her photography amateur at best, that was a pretty big deal… especially since it was taken with a point-and-shoot!
So I made this meyer lemon focaccia last weekend. Having recently gotten back from a fairly long vacation, coupled with the end of CSA season, we are still struggling to restock our refrigerator effectively… I hadn’t had anything to eat yet that day (I know, bad!! And very unlike me) and it was 1 pm when the focaccia came out of the oven. It smelled and looked so good that it was almost heartbreaking to stop to take pictures instead of devouring it immediately. But this decadent bread was well worth the wait. We ended up polishing off the entire loaf that day… I’m not exaggerating; I literally subsisted on only focaccia for 24 hours.
For anyone who thinks focaccia is flat and bland, I beg you to give it another try. I’m pretty proud of the crumb structure of this loaf, which was made with over 50% whole grain flour:
As you can see, not dense at all! The meyer lemon slices caramelized in olive oil and sugar made for a subtle but satisfying bitter note, and rosemary (in my mind) is just a classic focaccia must-have. Now, I wouldn’t say the amount of oil in this bread is “horrifying”, but, the overall recipe would definitely not stand up to an official food pyramid. I will keep trying to make a lower-oil version, but I’m not making promises…
This recipe makes two batches of dough. There are enough steps to making the bread that I think preparing two batches is worthwhile. Yes, the dough has to rise approximately one million times. Yes, you have to start like a day and a half in advance. YES, it is worth it! The unbaked dough freezes well. And the dough itself only has a bit of oil, so if you are tired of focaccia, you can easily roll it out to use as pizza dough or something of the sort.
Rosemary and Meyer Lemon Focaccia
For the spelt sponge:
- 1/8 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup filtered water room temperature
- 3/4 cup spelt flour
For the dough (makes enough for two loaves):
- spelt sponge (from above)
- 1 and 1/2 cups filtered water lukewarm
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus more for greasing bowls
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 2 to 3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tb rye flour (or substitute with more spelt flour)
- 1 and 1/2 cups spelt flour
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading
- 2 tsp kosher salt
For preparing and baking one loaf of rosemary and meyer lemon focaccia:
- dough for one loaf of focaccia (from above)
- 1 meyer lemon sliced as thinly as possible, seeds removed (for best results, choose lemons that are ripe but very firm)
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary roughly chopped
- coarse salt (or regular salt)
- 3 to 4 tbsp olive oil
To prepare the spelt sponge:
- Stir together the yeast and water in a small bowl. Stir in the spelt flour until mixture is fully combined.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. The resulting mixture should show a few bubbles and have a paste-like consistency.
To prepare the focaccia dough:
- Whisk together the water and olive oil, and then add the active dry yeast.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the rosemary, flours, and salt until combined, then stir in the water and yeast mixture.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This step is essential to getting a great whole grain loaf.
- Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding all-purpose flour as needed, until the gluten is formed and the dough is slightly springy to the touch. You want the dough to stay fairly moist - there will be some sticking, but not so much that the dough can't be handled.
- Find a bowl large enough to hold twice the current volume of the dough, and grease it liberally with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover it with a warm, damp towel. Let rise in a warm place for 90-120 minutes, or until approximately doubled in size.
- Fold two opposite edges of the dough lengthwise into the center, and then fold the other two edges into the center as well. Flip over the entire thing and put it back into the greased bowl. Cover it again, and let it rise for 30-60 more minutes, or it has gotten up to 50% larger again (the dough may have deflated when folded). It should feel bouncy/springy to the touch.
Divide the dough in half. Continue to the baking step, or deflate and store dough for up to 3 days in the fridge, or much longer in the freezer.
To prepare and bake the rosemary and meyer lemon focaccia:
- Grease a cake pan or square pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, distributing it evenly around the bottom of the dish and a little bit up the sides.
- Gently stretch the dough into a circular shape and place it into the oiled dish.
- Let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until it has grown to start to fill out the baking dish.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a sharp knife or toothpick to poke holes in the top of the dough. Brush the top liberally with olive oil, then sprinkle with the chopped rosemary leaves. Layer the lemon slices sparsely on top (they should not overlap or cover the whole surface).
- Brush the top, especially atop the lemon slices, with more olive oil.
- Sprinkle the meyer lemon slices with sugar, and sprinkle the entire thing with coarse or regular salt.
- Bake at 450 for 25 to 40 minutes, until the top is significantly browned and feels pretty firm to the touch. The areas directly under the lemon slices might not feel quite as firm.
Brush with another light coating of olive oil and transfer to the bottom rack of the oven to bake for 5 to 10 more minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.
And now, the part you’ve been waiting for! The rest of the Virtual Vegan Potluck. Click the navigation buttons below to move forward or back in the potluck, where you’ll find vegan recipes by tons of other bloggers!