Flora, Fauna & Pane
A lovely weekend on the North Coast of California.
First, the Fauna. Our yard seems to be the pasture of choice for our neighborhood herd of Mule Deer. And the herd has grown in the last few weeks. We’ve seen at least three new babies (we refer to them, collectively, as “The Fonz”). And the young buckeroos were particularly rowdy this weekend. After the pictures below were taken, a large group assembled not 20 yards from our porch (perhaps drawn by the smell of Focaccia buns baking; more likely by the dandelions in bloom).
Next, the Flora. Cat and I pretend that our courtyard garden is a big pain to keep up, but the truth is we love working on it. It’s been a while since I looked at it without making a mental list of the chores that need to be done. But today, I was looking it over from the upstairs deck, and realized that it looks pretty great. So I snapped a few photos.
And finally the Pane. I saw an article in the food section of the SF Chronicle a week or two ago about the wonderful hamburgers at Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa (http://www.sfgate.com/food/chefssecrets/article/Secrets-of-Bistro-Don-Giovanni-s-burger-3674609.php#page-3). The story included their recipe for Focaccia Buns. So, with lots of good stuff around for sandwiches (leftover Salmon and Tartar Sauce; leftover chicken and barbecue sauce), I tried it out. This is about the quickest bread I’ve made (LOTS of yeast). It takes about two hours from mis en place to baked. The buns are good—they are tender and tasty and hold up to saucy fillings. I’m sure they would be great grilled for burgers.
Here’s the recipe (with my added weight measurements):
Bistro Don Giovanni’s Focaccia Hamburger Buns
These buns are adapted from the ones made at Bistro Don Giovanni. The buns can be made ahead, wrapped well and frozen for a couple of weeks.
2 1/4 cups (540 g) whole milk
1/2 ounce (14 g) instant dry yeast, about 1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 cup (55 g) olive oil + more as needed
5 1/3 cups (730 g) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons (25 g) salt
Instructions: Line two rimmed baking pans with parchment; set aside.
Warm milk to about 100°-110° and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the yeast and the 1/4 cup olive oil. Whisk to dissolve the yeast, then add the flour and salt. Mix on low speed until all the flour is incorporated. Increase the speed to medium, and continue to mix for about 2 more minutes.
Put the dough in an oiled bowl; turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until almost doubled, about 30-40 minutes. The dough should barely spring back pressed gently with your fingers.
Move oven racks to the middle and bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425° (400° if using a convection oven).
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 4 ounces each). Shape each portion into a ball. Arrange balls on the prepared baking sheets, spaced well apart (about 6 per sheet). Brush each ball generously with olive oil and let rest 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, oil the palm of your hand, then use your palm to gently flatten each ball until the top is somewhat flat and the balls are shaped like buns.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the buns are light golden brown. If needed, switch pans from top to bottom and back to front for during the last couple of minutes for more even browning.
Place the pans on a rack, brush each bun lightly with olive oil, and let cool completely before slicing. Wrap individually and freeze if not using the same day.
And may each of you have an enjoyable third fiscal quarter.