Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tender Focaccia

I can't believe I have never blogged this recipe... but then, it's been a while since I made it.

The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion is one of the books I would take with me while fleeing the collapse of civilization. It's good stuff; this focaccia likewise. I am going to post the recipe as they write it, with notes:

2 cups boiling water
3 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup potato flour or 1/3 cup potato flakes
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 to 3 tablespoons to grease the pan and the surface of the dough
¼ to ½ teaspoon kosher salt, sea salt, or fleur de sel, for topping

Put the hot water and 2 cups of the flour in a large bowl and beat for several minutes to develop a smooth batter. If you have the time, add 1/8 teaspoon yeast once the batter has cooled to lukewarm, and set the sponge aside for several hours or overnight (this helps develop flavor in the finished loaf, as well as the soft interior texture).
Note: I tried doing it this way once and ended up with a gluey mess! So ever since, I have used lukewarm water and a more "normal" way of mixing the ingredients.
Whisk the potato flour with the remaining flour, dry milk, yeast, and salt. Add this to the batter a little at a time, while continuing to beat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Beat, by hand with a large spoon or with the paddle attachment of a mixer set at medium speed, for 8 to 10 minutes, changing to a dough hook when the dough begins to hold together.
Note: You may feel like you should add more flour. Don't! The wetter, the better with this type of bread, though it may be difficult to move around. It took a good 12 minutes in my mixer before it came off the bottom of the bowl, which I take to be the sign that it's been kneaded long enough.
After the dough has become smooth and shiny, put it in an oiled bowl, cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 30 minutes.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 12- or 14-inch round pan, or 1 tablespoon olive oil into each of two 8-inch round pans. Place the dough in the oiled pan(s), gently stretching it to fit. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes, then stretch it out a little more. At this point you may refrigerate the dough in the pan(s), tightly covered, for up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Just before baking the focaccia, dimple it with your fingers, brush it with a little olive oil, and sprinkle it with coarse salt or a few sprigs of fresh herb. Bake the focaccia for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s deep brown all over. Remove it from the pan(s) and cool it for 15 minutes before eating. Serve with flavored olive oil, or split for sandwiches.

I don't know what I did this time, but this is some of the best focaccia I've ever made! As you can see, I put it into one large pan instead of the two small round ones. I sprinkled the top with fleur de sel and herbes de Provence, and it came out wonderfully, with a crisp outer crust and a tender interior crumb with some nice-sized holes. Not as chewy as you'd get with a proper starter, but a little bit of heaven anyway.


Ashley said...

This looks great! I've never made focaccia before...I might just have to try this!

RJS said...

Let me know how it turns out! :) Especially if you can get their boiling-water method to work....