Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

RECIPE: Focaccia



I am going to just tell you right now that I am not going to give you the focaccia recipe that I used to make this bread (actually, bread/cracker--more on that later). I am instead going to give you the recipe I found when I was frantically scratching my head halfway through the process going ... what the hell?

Because the recipe I used was from my interesting Italian book, which was not too detailed, and well ... when you come to a question mark instead of an actual number indicating how long you need to do something, you know it's time to abandon the recipe book and figure out something new.

Which is what happened. It started when I mixed the yeast with the water. It didn't say how much water, nor how long I needed to let the yeast be in the water before mixing it with the flour. Compare with: " Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1 cup lukewarm water in a bowl and let sit until foamy." And as mentioned before, when I got to the part anbout letting the dough rise, it told me to do it for "1 ? hour." Is that one hour with a typo? 1 and 1/2 hours with a word procesing glitch? The author just wasn't sure? I don't know. Also, taken as a whole, the directions were mostly like "mix all this stuff together and then cook it." Which ... yeah. That's generally how you make stuff. The point of a recipe is to tell a dumbass like me in which exact specific way I am to accomplish that. I think this recipe is just so basic to this region that it's almost impossible for someone from there to explain, like it's just something you should know, according to them.

Anyway, I managed to successfully get some bread made. However, I think I needed to let the dough rise more, since the "real" recipe gives it time to rise twice and the one I used only had opne rising session. Also, I needed to learn the correct ratio of flour to dough in kneading and shaping it, because I lost quite a bit of dough getting it stuck all over my hands and fingers when trying to manipulate it. As a result, I didn't have quite enough dough to fill my baking pan any more and I wasn't able to shape it well and it turned out that one side was a lot thinner than the other. So one side came out as focaccia bread and the other side came out as a nice cocktail cracker. Not quite what I was going for, but actually not too bad either since it was still edible and actually the cracker part was kind of better than the bread part.

I wasn't surprised that it came out weird. I'm notoriously terrible at baking, unless it is cookies. I was just happy that it was, in fact, edible. And I did eat it all.

The bread part definitely needed to be fluffier. It was a little too dense. The cracker part was great. It could have used a tad more salt, maybe. And some cheese.

As you can see, I threw some rosemary on top. I just did it to make it look pretty, but I think it was a wise decision, because it might have been even worse if I hadn't done that. It made it taste loads better.

Anyway, here is a much better recipe, which I suggest you use when you want to cook foccaccia and do not use a real Italian lady's recipe who has probably been making focaccia since she was 2 and feels like it doesn't need a whole lot of explanation.

Focaccia

by Jody Prival of the Dinner Co-op

2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water (105-115oF)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle on the bread
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
4-5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Coarse salt

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1 cup lukewarm water in a bowl and let sit until foamy. In another bowl, add the remaining 3/4 cup water, the olive oil, and the salt. Pour in the yeast mixture. Blend in the flour, 1 cup at a time, until t he dough comes together. Knead on a floured board for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to make it smooth and elastic. Put the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat well, and cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm draft-free place for 1 hour, until doubled.

Punch down the dough, knead it for about 5 minutes, and gently roll it out to fit a jelly roll pan, 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 inches. Let rise for 15 minutes, covered. Oil your fingers and make impressions with them in the dough, 1 inch apart. Let rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400oF. Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with additional oil if desired. Cut into squares and serve warm.


3 comments:

Yum. I'm making this great olive and onion bread tomorrow. I can't wait!

said by Garrett at 10:27 AM Delete

Mmm ... I LOVE olives. I bet that bread will be delicious.

said by KT at 11:32 AM Delete

I applaud your effort in this. For some reason, I shy away from anything with yeast. It always feels like it consumes your entire day! Your picture looks great and I bet you intrepreted that recipe rather well.

It looks quite tasty. If in the future you need somebody to taste-test your recipe...well, I'm a fellow Angelino and always willing to help out a fellow blogger!

said by Acme Instant Food at 12:16 PM Delete

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