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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Focaccia, Finale! (Don't be like me)

Well, it's been a slightly long road, but we've gotten there. I know many people probably are put off by the length of time this particular focaccia takes, but believe me, it is well worth it. Just know that there are many other tasty focaccia recipes out there that don't take nearly as much time, this just happens to be the one I prefer. Today is the day you will put on your final toppings, let the focaccia rise for a few hours and bake it to a spectacular deep golden brown.

Finishing the Focaccia:

-Remove the focaccia from the fridge.
-If there are any toppings you want on top of the focaccia such as olives or artichoke (yumyum), you should place them on it now. You will also most likely want to dimple the dough one more time and brush it with a bit more oil (I find this necessary as the dough comes up a bit overnight and the dimples are gone).
-Ideally you want to be able to let the focaccia rise without the plastic over the top (to prevent it from sticking to the dough). I do this by creating a "proof box" out of my oven. I turn on the light inside the oven to generate a little warmth, place a bread pan in the bottom of the oven, fill the bread pan with steaming water and then place the focaccia in the oven, close it and check the water from time to time. This creates a nice somewhat warm damp environment that yeasties like so much. If you are not able to do this, you can let the focaccia sit out at room temperature, just try to find a way to prop the plastic up off the dough while keeping it inside (this will also take a bit longer, but you've come this far, so what's another hour?).
-Allow the bread to ferment for anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (it does vary quite a bit depending on temperature, how long the dough takes to come to room temperature, how active your yeast is, etc etc...) until the surface of the dough looks like it's (forgive me, I have no other way to describe it) blowing spit bubbles. At this point, remove it from the oven and loosely cover with plastic (tent it over) and preheat your oven to 475 degrees. - Do not be like me and forget that the focaccia is proofing in the oven. This is where out of sight out of mind came in for me. I really need to get myself a timer that lasts longer than an hour. I forgot the focaccia was in the oven, G and I were about to venture out to buy some dirt and plants for the garden when I remembered the focaccia....sigh. I baked it anyway, but it was overproofed and sad looking. I am guilty of bread abuse, this makes me very sad and disappointed in myself.
I'll beat myself up about this for awhile, but fear not, I will recover-
-Before I put the focaccia in the oven, I like to sprinkle a bit of kosher salt over the top of it because sometimes I'm a salt-o-holic.
-Once your oven is preheated, place your beautifully proofed focaccia in the oven, set the timer for about 15 minutes, and give it a look once the timer goes off. You may want to rotate it depending on how evenly your oven bakes. Set the timer for another 10 minutes or so. The focaccia will take from 30 to 40 minutes depending on your oven and what you consider to be a nice golden brown. If you are going to put any toppings like cheese on the focaccia, I would consider waiting until it has baked for about 20 minutes or so before sprinkling it on. I also like to brush a little bit more of the infused oil over the top of the bread after the first 15 minutes. It gives it a nice sheen and allows for a little bit more of the oil to seep into the bread.
-Once the bread is finished, remove it from the oven, let it cool about five minutes in the pan, then remove it from the pan and let it finish cooling on a wire rack (this prevents the bottom from steaming itself and getting soggy). I am happy to report that even with overproofing the bread a bit, it still smelled heavenly when baking and it still tastes wonderful.
-Pour yourself a glass of wine, slice up the bread and enjoy! Mmmmmm, focaccia. Also makes for wonderful sandwiches. I love it with spread with goat cheese and tomatoes and broiled a bit. Mmmmmmm.

Happy Baking!

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