Focaccia is the bread that inspired me to ask the cook on Bounty to teach me how to make bread. She was kneading it in a large bowl, one had covered in sticky dough while the other hand added a bit of flour here and there to get the consistency right. There was something memorizing about watching her work and the end product was great. Some of the other crew had been making bread in the middle of the night, on the 12-4 watch, but all of their loaves turned out like bricks and weren’t that great to eat. I wanted to try my hand at making something edible, I wanted a real bread lesson from someone who knew what they were doing.
Over the years I’ve tried several different recipes, but I keep going back to the one I got from the cook that taught me how to make bread. It’s been tweaked over the years from the original, but I love that it’s one of the first recipes for bread I ever used. The top of this focaccia is garnished with manchego cheese, fresh rosemary and thin slices of lemon that remain tart and bright after they have been baked. This bread is best devoured shortly out of the oven while the cheese is crispy and the lemons are soft, I bet it would be just as good the next day but I wouldn’t know, mine got gobbled up in minutes and yours will too.
Add all of the dough ingredients, not the 2 tablespoons oil, into the bowl of a stand mixer. Knead for 8-10 minutes, gradually adding more water if necessary. Cover and rest in a warm spot for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
In a large cast iron pan add the 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl it around, scoop out the dough into the pan. Flip the dough over so it is completely covered in oil, use your fingers to dimple the dough and stretch it to fill the pan. Cover and let rest 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 500F, once preheated assemble the toppings.
Drizzle the top of the dough with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Sprinkle the dough with the manchego, arrange the lemon slices evenly on top, garnish with the rosemary and salt. For the sugar only sprinkle it on the lemons, this will help them carmalized and get some color.
Turn down the oven to 425F and baked the focaccia covered with tin foil for 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake a further 15 minutes. Total cooking time 30 minutes. The bottom of the focaccia should be golden brown and crispy when finished. If you don’t have enough color on your bread pop it under a preheated broiler for a minute or so, keeping a close eye on it.
I’m a tall ship cook, I prefer to cook with water beneath me, no land in sight and lots of mouths to feed. I like to play with bold flavors, pushing people’s taste buds in new directions and using a recipe as a guideline, my hands are my measuring spoons. Read More about “About Me”…