Jan 17, 2012

Fabulous Focaccia!

I am a huge fan of fresh bread and the closest access I have is a bakery nearby that bakes fresh every morning.. some of their stuff is pretty good but nothing beats fresh out of the oven bread like the one you make at home. Like I've have said before, gelatin and yeast are not my favourite ingredients but then again I refuse to miss out on the goodies they yield. And then there is a matter of patience which yeast definitely needs. Which is the main reason why I have left sourdoughs to the pro's, too much work, too little validation! The next best thing is easier breads with basic active dry yeast, like focaccia, cornetti, panini, filoncino, all my darlings!

The weather in my city is not good for my mood or my appetite, my mood needs to be improved and my appetites needs to be satiated, it is days like these that draw me to yeast (and if you talk chocolate, then gelatin too!!). I make basic focaccia dough and use it over 2 days, the overnight proofing gives me a more flavoursom batch the next day, though the composition of the final product is a bit denser. I have most fun with the toppings though, for a thick focaccia, thats crisp on the outside and bready soft inside, you can add toppings that need time to cook and wont char off. Try stuff like red onions, cherry tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots, fresh mozzarella, pancetta, bacon and even slivers of smoked salmon or rich porcini mushrooms. To make a thinner focaccia (say about an 1"+), I use fast cooking toppings, slivered bell peppers, garlic, parmesan, fresh dry herbs like rosemary, oregano, chives, chilli flakes, ham, pepperoni, salami, comte cheese, olives, mascarpone, ricotta ... now I can't think of anymore so go ahead and think of all your favourite pizza toppings and have fun!

2 1/2 teaspoons/13 gms active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
250 ml lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups/275 gms all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
 6 tablespoons olive oil.

PREP: Heat the water to lukewarm in a glass bowl, add the sugar then proof the yeast  in the water for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy, use a whisk to mix in the yeast with the water. Add the flour, the table salt, and 3 tablespoons of the oil, and combine the dough well. I use my hand in a rotating motion, like a mixer blade would move, till the dough comes together, then just be gentle with it.

Oil a stainless steel bowl with olive oil, put the rolled dough in and cover with plastic wrap. leave in a warm place to rise, I let it be for at least 2 hrs before I handle it. Then put the dough on a floured surface and fold like envelope, one over like a double door and then the top and bottom like a parcel. Roll and return to the bowl.

After another hour or so you can use the dough. grease a baking dish, take 1/3 to make as much as i did up there, pat out, stud with choice of topping. bake at 200 C for 25-30 minutes or till brown.

We actually eat them with grilled chicken and a creamy dip but most of the people I make this for, dont want anything else with em! Enjoy!