Sunday, February 28, 2010


There are so many ways you can top this bread, and so many ways to eat it.  I love to dip it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, make sandwiches out of it, or just eat it plain.  I divided this recipe and made one loaf with sun dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives, and the other with just a sprinkling of kosher salt and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  So good.

This is a two day process, but it is fairly easy
Basic Focaccia
from Fine Cooking Magazine:

1 lb 9 oz unbleached bread flour (5 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 cups cold water
2 Tbs plus 1 tsp granulated sugar (1 oz)
2 tsp table salt or 3 1/2 tsp kosher salt (1/2 oz)
1 packet (1/4 oz) instant yeast
10 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt or kosher salt, for sprinkling

The day before baking:
 *Combine the flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl of a stand mixer (use paddle attatchment).
 *Slowly mix until the ingredients form a ball around the paddle, about 30 seconds
 *Switch to dough hook; let rest for 5 minutes and then mix on medium for another 3 minutes
 *Stop the machine to scrape the dough off the hook, let the dough rest or 5 minutes and then mix on medium low for another 3 minutes, until it's relatively smooth
 *Coat a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size with 1 Tbs of the olive oil
 *Transfer the dough to the bowl and rotate the dough to coat it with the oil
 *Hold the bowl steady with one hand, wet the other hand in water, grasp the dough and stretch it to nearly twice the size.
 *Lay the stretched section back over the dough.  Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat this stretch and fold technique.
 *Do this 2 more times so that you have rotated the bowl a full 360 degrees and stretched and folded the dough four times.
 *Drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil over the dough and flip it over.  Wrap the bowl well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8-10 hours.

3 hours before baking, shape the focaccia and let it rise:
 *Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator and start shaping the focaccia 3 hours before you intend to bake it (2 hours on a warm day)
 *Cover a 13X18 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat and coat the surface with 2 Tbs olive oil
 *Gently slide a rubber spatula or dough scraper under the dough and guide it out of the bowl onto the center of the pan. The dough will sink beneath it's own weight, expelling some gas but retaining enough to keep an airy gluten network that will grow into nice holes
 *Drizzle 2 Tbs of the olive oil on top of the dough
 *Dimple the entire dough surface, working from the center to the edges, pressing your fingertips straight down to create hollows in the dough while gently pushing the dough down and out toward the edges of the pan
 *Set it aside to rest for 20 minutes
 *After letting the dough rest, drizzle more olive oil over it and dimple again
 *Cover the dough loosely with oiled plastic wrap, put the pan on the rack to let air circulate around it, and let the dough rise at room temp until its about 1 1/2 times its original size and swells to the rim of the pan.  This will take 2 to 3 hours depending on the temp of the room
30 minutes before baking:
 *Heat oven to 475, gently remove plastic wrap and sprinke a few pinches of sea salt or kosher salt over the dough
 *Put pan in the oven and reduce the heat to 450
 *After 15 min, rotate the pan to ensure even baking
 *Check the dough after another7 min.  If its done, it will be golden brown on top and the underside
 *Set on cooling rack

Here is the plain focaccia sprinkled with kosher salt and Parmesan cheese. (Sprinkle cheese at last minute so it doesn't burn)

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