The bread turned out amazing (If I don't say so myself). Great crust on top and bottom and great chewy texture inside. There is a really nice long story about how the folks at Cooks Illustrated arrived at this recipe that includes mashed and strained potato. In short, they say it adds moisture. I was rushing to finish dinner in time for our guests, my brother-in-law and his wonderful girlfriend, so I tried to take a shortcut with the potatoes - I peeled the potato, cut it into cubes and then put in a microwave safe bowl with water and microwaved it for 12 minutes. Then I pushed the potato pieces through my silver mesh strainer. The stovetop boiling method calls for a boil time of 25 minutes, so I didn't save much time, but some.
All in all, it was a lot of work, only made one bread (guess you could double the recipe) and was a little stale the next day. So for the most part, I will continue going to the bakery down the street for their OK foccacia to make foccacia pizzas - but every now and then, I may make my husband's day with the homemade version.
Here is the dough after the second rise, with the fingerprint wells, olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary and coarse salt.
And here is the final baked bread. Yum!
Recipe from Baking Illustrated:
1 Medium baking potato (about 9 oz), peeled and quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for oiling bowl and pan)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Topping (I approximated the amounts below)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt)
1. Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a small saucepan; add the potato and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potato well; cool until it can be handled comfortably; press it through the fine disk on a ricer or grate through the large holes on a box grater. Reserve 1 1/3 cups lighly packed potato.
2. Using a standing mixer mix the yeast, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup war water until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Add the remaining dough ingredients, including reserved potato. Attach the paddle attachment to mixer and mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, continue kneeding until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer doubh to lighly oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough is puffy and doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. With wet hands press the dough flat into a generously oiled 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 inch rimmed baking sheet. Cover the dough with lightly greased or oil-sprayed plastic wrap and let rise in warm, draft free area until the dough is puffy and doubled in volume - 45 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. With two wet fingers dimple the risen dough at regular intervals. The dimples (about 2 dozen) should be deep enough to hold small pieces of topping, herbs and pools of olive oil. Drizzle the dough with olive oil, herbs and salt.
6. Bake until bottom crust is golden brown and crist, 23 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.