Recipes Inspired by Musicals: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Sunday, March 2, 2014
My family has a long association with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Andrew and I first saw the show when we visited London in 1992, a year after we were married. That trip was my first chance to meet most of his British relatives; both the trip and the musical were a big success.

A few years later, my mother took my sister and me to see the show at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto, starring Donny Osmond. And when my daughters were young, their elementary school put on a production in which their babysitter played Joseph.

But by far my favourite memory of Joseph happened when my youngest daughter was a newborn and my oldest daughter was a three-year-old – a very lively, animated three-year-old. It had been hard to keep up with her while I was pregnant, but now that she had a baby sister, I didn’t know how to keep her busy, especially when I needed to nurse the baby.

But one day, inspiration hit. I turned on the soundtrack to Joseph and asked her to perform the show for us. And she proceeded to take every role, acting and singing with an energy that was incomprehensible to her sleep-deprived mother. This routine became a staple of my child-rearing techniques, and kept her happy for many hours with very little participation required from me.

If you know the musical – or the Bible story on which it’s based – you won’t be surprised that the recipe it inspired was a loaf of bread. Joseph made a name for himself by interpreting dreams. Meeting two men in prison, they each told him their dreams, and Joseph explained what they meant. First, the butler told his dream and Joseph said he’d soon be freed. Then it was the baker’s turn:

“There I was standing with baskets of bread.
High in the sky I saw birds overhead,
Who flew to my baskets and ate every slice.
Give me the message – like his would be nice.”

(Unfortunately for the baker, he didn’t get a good-news message like the butler.)

When I make homemade bread, I almost always bake whole-wheat, whole-grain varieties. But focaccia, with its roots in ancient Rome (panis focacius), seemed in some vague way to complement a musical set in an ancient civilization. Now I realize the only connection is that my family – like the birds in the lyrics – ate every slice, with astonishing speed.

For other recipes inspired by musicals on my blog, see my recipe index.


Rosemary Focaccia with Coarse Salt
(adapted slightly from Kneadlessly Simple, by Nancy Baggett)

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus more if needed
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary needles (remove the stems), chopped fairly fine
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp instant, fast-rising, or bread-machine yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water, plus more if needed
1 Tbsp olive oil (first amount)
1 Tbsp olive oil (second amount), plus more as needed
3/4 tsp sea salt or other coarse salt

First rise: In a large bowl, thoroughly mix together the flour, rosemary, salt and yeast until blended.   Vigorously stir in the water, scraping down the bowl and mixing until very well blended. Vigorously stir in 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. If the dough is dry and hard to blend, stir in enough more ice water to yield a moist, yet slightly stiff dough.  Split dough in half, and place each in a medium to large mixing bowl. Cover bowls tightly with plastic wrap.  If desired, you can refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours.  Then let rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours (preferably closer to 18 hours).

Second rise: Line two 8” x 8” baking pans with parchment paper. Using a well-oiled rubber spatula, turn the dough out into the pans, trying not to deflate any more than necessary. Drizzle each loaf with 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil. With well-oiled hands, lightly pat and press out the dough until it is evenly thick and extends to within 1 inch of the edges all around. Tent the pan with olive oil-brushed plastic wrap.

Let rise: For a regular rise, let stand at warm room temperature for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.  For an extended rise, refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours then set out at room temperature.  Continue the rise until the dough doubles from its deflated size.

Baking: 20 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 500 degrees.  Place a broiler pan on the oven floor.  To bake, place the loaves in the oven and reduce the temperature to 475 degrees.  Immediately add a cup of water to the broiler pan - be careful of splattering and steam.  Then bake for an additional 8 – 10 minutes (or until the centre registers 209 to 212 on an instant-read thermometer) to be sure the centre is done. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Note: Focaccia is best when fresh. Cut into rectangles and serve warm or at room temperature. To maintain crispness, drape with a tea towel at cool room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

24 comments:

Valerie Gamine said...

This focaccia is making my mouth water; salt, rosemary and olive oil - who can resist!
Adorable story about your eldest daughter performing for you, my mom should have tried that technique on my older sister. :)

Barbara said...

Delicious, Beth. Wouldn't this be great with cheese melted on it?

Velva said...

Focaccia is deliicous. I was watching a cooking demonstration his past weekend on makin focaccia...Itis a beautiful flat bread that really holds up the heavy salty flavors. Love it.

Kitchen Riffs said...

I so love your recipes inspired by musicals! They're always fun and have a great story, and this one might have the best story of all. It's amazing the energy little ones have, isn't it? Great looking focaccia. Anything with rosemary is OK with me.

Angie Schneider said...

Love this Italian classic, Beth. And rosemary is my favourite herb. This is a perfect homemade bread for my lunch.

Julie said...

I love all things rosemary! This looks delicious.

Belinda said...

What fond memories - I agree, rosemary works perfectly with this!

bakewithjill.com said...

Focaccia doesn't last long in our house - there's something about rosemary and salt that is irresistible!

grace said...

i love focaccia! i was so surprised to learn how easy it is to make at home, and the idea of adding rosemary is very alluring!

Kathy said...

This looks delicious!

bamskitchen said...

Delicious looking focaccia bread. I love how animated 3 year olds can be and I can just imagine her wanting to get dressed up to play the play all of the roles. I am sure that kept her very busy whilst you were busy with the new baby.

Christy said...

This is interesting, and looks heavenly~ It's fascinating to hear how your recipes are inspired by musicals, which goes to show that yours is truly a work of art, a masterpiece even! ;-)

Katerina said...

I love homemade bread, the smell is irresistible! This one is one fine focaccia Beth and the addition of rosemary must have given a very unique flavor!

Joanne said...

I need to remember that "technique" of keeping your children busy for when I have kids! I foresee them singing a lot of Wicked around our apartment....

That loaf is beautiful!

Jess said...

Oh yum, yum, yum! I loved bread and I LOVE rosemary. This looks great and I really enjoyed hearing your family's connection to "Joseph...."!

allieksmith said...

I love the story about your daughter when she was three and you wanted to keep her busy while you nursed. I think that is so cute. It's also very cool that your family has such a connection to an amazing musical!!

The bread looks divine! I absolutely adore rosemary!

yummychunklet said...

I love foccacia! Yum!

Caroline Taylor said...

Lovely story and great recipe.

backroadjournal said...

Rosemary goes so well in bread. Yours looks good and I can see why every slice would be eaten.

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, wonderful memories and fabulous bread - what a great post!

Juliana Levine said...

Such a nice post Beth...this bread looks delicious, like the rosemary touch in it...
Hope you are enjoying your week :D

Jemi Fraser said...

I've never tried making focaccio! Sounds delicious! :)

HikeBikeTravel said...

I haven't made foccacia in years - yet it's so easy to do. This will be a good project this weekend.

I Wilkerson said...

What a great technique for working with an energetic toddler! My youngest was in this for the school musical last year--such a fun show!

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