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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Focaccia, Take 2

In terms of breads I love to make and love to eat (which generally includes anything yeasted) Focaccia is probably third on my list, after Ciabatta (which was in two installments) and Brioche. Focaccia is versatile in the way it is topped (and there are so many different ways to make it that it's hard to keep track). I've had it topped with kalamata olives and feta cheese, caramelized onions and roquefort, grapes(yes, grapes) and other things I cannot remember. Today I'll just be brushing the top with a rosemary infused olive oil before I put it in the fridge to retard and ferment overnight. Usually I would prefer a basil infusion, but my garden is not quite yet in basil producing mode, so I turn to my rosemary bush for this (I love rosemary, but basil is my favorite for this).
Before you start mixing this up, I recommend removing the poolish from the fridge for about an hour to allow it to come to room temperature.

Focaccia (from Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb: Master Formulas for Serious Bread Bakers with a few little changes from me...namely a bit more poolish used and this is a half recipe, as a full recipe makes two sheet pans full)

3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
Poolish made the night before (or up to three days before, recipe in previous post)
1/2 cup cool water
Herbs, additional olive oil, and any toppings you would like)
-Combine all of the ingredients, except the toppings in the bowl of a mixer with a dough hook (this is a wet dough, so using an electric machine will make things a bit less of a mess...but you may do this by hand, just have cold water on hand to dip your hands in during the mixing process, and flour to sprinkle on your board).
-Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then switch to medium for about 12 minutes. The dough will be sticky and glutenous and will clear the sides of the bowl (by hand you will probably need to knead for about 15 minutes or so).
-Place the dough into a large bowl that has been coated in olive oil, mist the top with cooking spray, or give it a light coat of olive oil, cover the bowl and let it rise for about 3 hours, or until it swells considerably. Kick back and relax, go see a movie, do some gardening, shovel some snow, drink some tea (note that this will not be doubled in size). Make your infused herb/garlic oil if you are going to do that: olive oil, rosemary, garlic simmered together for about 5 minutes then allowed to sit until you use it.

-Prepare a sheet pan by brushing with olive oil (I do like to line the pan with parchement and brush that with olive oil, I also like to use the herb infused olive oil for this to add more rosemary flavor throughout).
If you are going to add garlic or herbs or anything else you would like in the dough, add it in now and gently work it in until it is evenly distributed.
-Place the dough in the prepared pan and let it rest for 20 minutes.
-Press and stretch the dough to fill the pan should be about 1/2 inch or so thick. If it is being stubborn, let it relax another 10 minutes and try again, repeat if necessary.
-Rub the top of the dough with more olive oil (infused if you like)then dimple the dough with your fingertips. Place the sheetpan in a large plastic bag, allow to rise for one hour, then place in the refrigerator overnight (without any additional toppings).

Stay tuned for part three tomorrow!

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