This popular bread appears in the bread baskets delivered to tables at Potenza and also is sold at the restaurant's bakery.
Make Ahead: This is a double-rise process that takes up to 1 hour 45 minutes.
- 4 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 2 cups warm water (no hotter than 105 degrees)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast
- 6 tablespoons good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the proofing bowl
- 3 large Roma tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- Leaves from 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Coarsely ground black pepper
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Lightly flour a work surface.
Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl; stir well and let sit for a few minutes, then add the 6 tablespoons of oil. Add to the bowl with the flour and salt. Knead the dough for 10 minutes (in the bowl), until it is smooth and elastic (in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, the dough should take 6 to minutes).
Generously grease a large stainless-steel mixing bowl with oil. Transfer the kneaded dough to the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot free of drafts; let it sit for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
Punch down the dough. Lightly grease a 17-by-12-inch (or 15-by-10-inch) rimmed baking sheet, then transfer the dough to the sheet and stretch it to fill to the edges. Place in a warm spot free of drafts and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in bulk. The dough should be visibly airy and will have risen just above the rim of the baking sheet (if it hasn't risen that high, the focaccia dough can still be baked; the bread will just be flatter).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Liberally apply the oil to the surface of the dough, then arrange the tomato slices on top. Use you fingers to dock the dough all over. Sprinkle evenly with the rosemary, grated cheese, and with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown; for best results, rotate the pan front to back every 10 minutes during baking.
Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
From Bryan Moscatello, executive chef at Zola and Potenza in downtown Washington.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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