The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A very tasteless focaccia.

  • Pin It
Allenph's picture
Allenph

A very tasteless focaccia.

The following is my recipe...

Poolish

243 Grams Flour
243 Grams Water
Pinch Yeast

Dough

243 Grams Flour
101 Grams Water
30 Grams Olive Oil
10 Grams Salt
6 Grams Yeast
4 Grams Sugar

A wet dough, coming out to a hydration of about 77%. I fermented the poolish for twelve hours, then added the rest of the ingredients. I kneaded using the slap-and-fold method, until it was actually a dough. Raised it for a little over an hour, degassed, shaped to pan, and let it raise for a bit more than any hour and a half. Then I poked the holes with my fingers. I coated the dough with a generous amount of olive oil, and baked at 375 F for slightly more than thirty minutes. Then, I again added olive oil, in addition to a liberal amount of coarse sea salt, basil, and oregano.

However, I was quite disappointed when I tasted the bread. The topping was great, but that was the only flavorful part of the focaccia. In fact, it was too the point where I almost ripped off the top and just ate the seasoned part. Certainly with the poolish it should more flavorful? 

In my attempts at artisan French bread with a similar preferment I was also quite disappointed with the lack of flavor. I was wondering if anyone noticed anything wrong with my recipe, or knows of something I can do to increase the flavor of my bread . 

As always, thanks for any services rendered. 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Not saying my method is better but I have been happy with the taste.  I make the dough similarly to you but I after the bulk rise I put it in a pan lined with parchment, slightly flatten it, put olive oil infused with herbs on top and then use my fingers to push the dough into the shape of the pan.  When this is done I put it in the fridge over night, take out of fridge 3 hours before baking, I usually top it with fried mushrooms and onion, shred some parmesan cheese on it, pull a fresh ball of mozzarella apart on it and if we have some pasta sauce I put a few dabs of that on top as well.  

Gerhard

Allenph's picture
Allenph

Well, I appreciate the comment, but I wasn't asking about toppings. In fact, I quite enjoyed the simple topping on my focaccia, my problem was with the actual bread. I fear the topping was the only part of the focaccia I liked.

BreadBro's picture
BreadBro

Peter Reinhart's method is my favorite and the one I most commonly use. I form the dough, let it rise for about an hour, pan it, and then dimple in a hefty amount of herb olive oil. Afterwards, I cover the foccacia and put it in the fridge overnight. The next day I take it out, dimple in a little more oil, add my pre-proof toppings and let it rise for about 3 hours or so. The flavor is really extraordinary due to the slow, overnight rise and the herb olive oil which has had plenty of time to penetrate the dough.

If you want to keep using the poolish method, make sure your poolish is really ripe before you use it and maybe try to extend your fermentation time by a bit. In addition, try dimpling in the olive oil to help it soak through. Also oil the bottom of the pan liberally. I bake my foccacia much, much hotter - at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. 

Lots of fermentation and lots of oil is the trick ;)

 

Rodinka47's picture
Rodinka47

Why not leave the Poolish out over night for a good 12 hours let it get nice and boozy. The Poolish that I use is to be left at room temperature for 8-24 hrs. My focaccia is really lovely. See the focaccia recipe on America's Test Kitchen. It is really tasty. If you can't use it it will keep up to 3 days in the fridge. But leave it out its worth the flavour! 

Dragonbones's picture
Dragonbones

One thing you can do is use a more flavorful, aromatic extra virgin olive oil for this (and save the cheaper olive oil for other uses). Look for one that says extra fruity, for instance, and pay a bit more for it. You may also increase the salt slightly, as undersalted bread lacks flavor. Also, as another poster has mentioned, oil the pan liberally before spreading the dough on it.

As for the bread itself, you could try a sourdough method, which is more flavorful -- so much so that I rarely bake with regular yeast nowadays.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Hm... I might try giving the final dough a longer ferment.  Thinking about the poolish baguette I make, I do an overnight poolish (~12 hours) but then give the final dough at least 3 or 4 hours to ferment.  I find that lead to a really nice nutty, sweet flavour in my loaf. 

I should admit, I don't bake focaccia very often because I don't feel like I quite know what I'm shooting for in terms of the right balance between flavour from the toppings vs. flavour from the bread, as well as how to add enough olive oil to do it right without making it unpleasantly oily.  But I do make pizza and definitely give the final dough longer than one hour for the final fermentation. 

Good luck!   

golgi70's picture
golgi70

So many good suggestions. I use pâté fermente (old dough) to add flavor to my focaccia. Pretty much same idea as many mentioned with cold ferment. Also mentioned was extending bulk ferment another good idea. A final simple idea is make poolish 24 hours in advance after say 4 hours place in fridge overnight. 

one last and very important question. What kind of flour are you using?  low quality white flours tend to make bread with little character. If your flour is of quality there is also the consideration of adding some whole grain to your poolish to add depth. 

 

Josh

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

try them also inside the bread.  (might want to toast them first) The sooner you get them in there, the more they flavour the focaccia.  If you put them into the poolish, you require less than if you work them into the dough later on.  Don't forget edible flowers petals and fruit.  

It all comes down to how the bread is served.  The more you eat it alone, the more you have to think about spices and toppings whether in the dough, dusted on top or placed on top or inside.  Dipping slices or torn off pieces into oils, sauces, soups, etc. is also popular to add flavour to a rather bland bread.  (the recipe is indeed bland)

clazar123's picture
clazar123

A few questions on various aspects.

Are you using unbleached flour? I find the bleached is absolutely flavorless.

Is the preferment sitting at room temp or in the refrigerator?

Why is the bulk ferment only 1 hour? Is it at least almost doubled at that time?

What is the room temp where it is rising each time?

All these aspects can affect flavor. Flavor comes from all the wonderful byproducts of yeast digestion so anything to give them time to digest is good for flavor.  A preferment should have a good influence on flavor but perhaps it is not ripe enough when you use it??

Allenph's picture
Allenph

Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions, I do have a few follow-up questions if you don't mind.

I was under the impression that you could over ferment a poolish. That the yeast would destroy the gluten chains if not properly timed, and I would lose my texture, I fermented it for twelve hours, which I figured would be not too much, and still not to little. It did have a very nice smell to it. 

The second thing is, I have been using 1% of the flour as a yeast guideline, and the dough does double in size fairly quickly. Should I reduce the amount of yeast and increase the time spent fermenting? Somehow in my mind, this doesn't make sense to me, it seems more yeast in less time would achieve the same result, would someone mind explaining? 

In answer to Clazar123, I use bleached flour, I usually just get the off brand because since I've started baking I've been going through it like crazy, I assumed that it was more in the technique than the flour. It sits on the counter, our house is always kept at 68 F. 


Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

Amaze yourself by using a good stoneground flour!

Happy baking

Juergen

Ps. With less yeast and more time the enzymes have more time to do their job. It's not just the yeast ...

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Less time more yeast will get things moving quickly but flavour takes time so less yeast more time is the way to go to develop flavour.  One of the ingredients commercial products are shorted on is time which is why they tend to be inferior.  By adding more yeast you aid the rising but the bacteria that develop the flavour have no time to grow.

Gerhard

P.S. I always have a sourdough starter growing in the fridge and  take the opportunity to refresh it by throwing most of it into my dough even though the leavening is mostly done by the yeast.

proth5's picture
proth5

Poolish is best used when "ripe" - that means a lot of small bubbles on top and just beginning to receed.  There is a "window" when it should be used.  The length of time that it takes to ripn can be adjusted by using less yeast, keeping the poolish cool, or salting the poolish.  But when it is ripe, it is ripe.

1% (or so) yeast is a good rule of thumb for fresh yeast.  But if you are using instant yeast, you might want to divide that by three.

Bleached flour.  So tempting to buy the less expensive flour, but its the carotenoid pigments that are bleached away that add so much flavor to the bread.  Since you are taking the time to do the work of baking at least start with unbleached flour. 

For my free opinion - I don't worship at the altar of "wetter is better". Yes, water makes the baker rich, but sometimes you have to look to a balanced formula to produce the best taste.  You might try dropping the hydration just a bit

Hppy Baking!.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Bleached flour makes tasteless bread.At least that is my experience.It seems to work ok for highly flavored baked goods but despite looking good, bread is flavorless. Technique only counters this to a minor degree.

As for developing flavor with yeast,it simply takes time so make sure youadd a generous amount of Tincture of Time.

Mirko's picture
Mirko

Hi,

this is my favorite Focaccia http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/31144/focaccia-la-ciril-hitz , taste amazing.

Mirko