The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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Russ

Well, I haven't been active here in quite awhile, but I do still check in from time to time to see what people are baking and to just pick up some tips here and there.

But I baked a focaccia yesterday and wrote up the recipe to post for some folks on a couple of other sites, so I thought I might as well share here too, in case anyone is interested. I'm just going to put it up how I did on the other sites and try to fix up the formatting for how it works here. Here goes:


Notes:

  • I use instant yeast, the recipe will need to be altered slightly for active dry if that's all you have. For active dry yeast, use lukewarm water, add yeast to warm water, add 1 tablespoon flour, let sit for ten minutes until bubbly, then add mixture to flour.
  • It's simplest to measure if you're working with a kitchen scale, and that's how I do it, but I will include volume measurements in case you don't have one.
  • For the herbed olive oil I tend to mix up whatever sounds good. Usually I'll do something like a clove or two of crushed/minced garlic, and some rosemary, oregano, and black pepper. I've also sometimes just done the garlic and some "italian seasoning" spice mix. You could also leave out the garlic if you like. All references to olive oil mean extra virgin.
  • Oversized parchment paper is very helpful in that it allows you to line your jelly roll pan all the way up the side. I use stuff that is 15" wide and it does the job nicely.

First day:

Sponge:

  • 250 g (2 cups) flour (Bread flour or other high gluten flour recommended)
  • 250 g (9 ounces, 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) water
  • 1/16 tsp yeast

Mix yeast into flour, add water, mix until the flour is wet, it will be a thick batter. Let sit covered overnight or at least four hours, at room temperature.

Next day:

Herb oil:

  • 1.25 cups olive oil
  • Herbs (Crushed garlic, fresh ground black pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, dried thyme, dried rosemary)

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over low heat, add the herbs. After 5-10 minutes or if any of the herbs start to brown, remove from heat. Allow to cool to somewhere in the lukewarm-room temp range

Dough:

  • Sponge (It should be bubbly by now)
  • 375 g (3 cups) flour
  • 13 g (2 tsp) salt
  • 4 g (1.25 tsp) yeast
  • 100 g (1/2 cup) herbed olive oil
  • 250 g (9 ounces, 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp) water

Toppings:

  • 1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (asiago or romano also work nicely)
  • 5-7 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • a sprig or two of fresh rosemary

This is just what I used this time, feel free to use whatever sounds good to you.
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Add yeast and salt to flour, Mix well.

Put all dough ingredients in a large (5 qt or so) mixing bowl and mix well until all of the flour is wet. It will not be smooth, don't worry about that. Cover and let sit for a half hour or so.

Oil your hands (use your herbed oil), reach into the bowl and stretch the dough, folding it over on itself. Do this two or three times. Cover and let sit another half hour or so. Repeat this step twice, allowing half an hour between each repetition. The dough will get smoother and the gluten will strengthen each time.

After the third folding session, let the dough sit until roughly doubled in size, usually 40 minutes to an hour.

Line a jelly roll pan (half sheet) with parchment paper. Pour about 1/4 cup of herbed oil onto the parchment and use your hands or a pastry brush to spread the oil to coat the parchment.

Using an oiled spatula or scraper, pour the dough into the sheet pan. Pour about 1/4 cup of herbed oil onto the dough. Oil your fingers a bit with it too. Spread the dough out by poking with your fingertips (hard to describe, poke it with fingers of both hands, pulling a little away from each other as you do, do this repeatedly until the dough is not a mound, but more flat with dimples and spread to about 2/3 the size of the pan). If there are any very large bubbles in the dough at this point, pop them. Pour a bit more oil on the dough so it's coated, using a pastry brush to spread the oil if needed. For the rest of this rise, I don't usually cover the dough, just check on it occasionally and pour a bit more oil on if any part looks dry. Let rise for another hour to hour and a half. It will mostly spread and get bubbly during this time.

About 1/2 hour into that rise, spread the dough again. It should pretty much fill the sheet by now. Try to pop as few of the bubbles that have been forming as possible. You'll want to start preheating your oven to 450 now.

At the end of that rise, Pour the rest of the oil onto the dough, including the herbs in it. try to distribbute the herbs somewhat evenly. Spread your grated cheese and sliced garlic on top.
 
Bake for 10 minutes, turn 180 degrees, bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. For best results, remove from the hot sheet pan. What I usually do is use the parchment to help me slide the whole thing into another, cool, sheet pan. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!

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