The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Fabulous Focaccia

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Fabulous Focaccia

A few years ago when I was dreaming about baking good bread I stumbled across Mike Avery and his Sourdough Home web site. http://www.sourdoughhome.com/index.html . For me it was a great find and Mike was very kind with me as I stumbled through the beginnings of learning to bake simple breads. After I was on my way and had been using some of his key recipes with success, I decided to purchase his self published recipe book. I figured he had earned my support after spending so much time holding my hand in the early days, and it's well done, has great pictures, easy directions and is a very good value (cheap). One of the extras Mike includes is his never ending updates. So every now and then he sends me a new recipe or update to one of the hand outs. He also supports the attendees of his classes with this same free update service.

Anyone who has been reading here at TFL knows what an asset Mike is for aspiring bakers. I really don't know anyone who is more well read and takes the time to work with the community and our users like he does. I hope he writes a hard cover book one of these days. He is very authoritative and has a clear writing style. Honest--I'm not the fan club president but I do appreciate all he does for us. It takes time to do this stuff.

A couple days ago I received a recipe for Focaccia from Mike that looked interesting and I tried it today. One thing I like about this recipe is that it's a 1 day project and still it tastes wonderful. It starts with a Sponge and is about 25% WW. I thought I would try making it savory so I added 1/4t of French Thyme and powdered Rosemary in the dough mix. As you can see in the photo I also baked a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary in the top.

This is the easiest and best Focaccia I have made. Thanks Mike, for the inspiration and formula. 

FocacciaFocaccia

holds99's picture
holds99

Eric,

Very nice focaccia.  You are so right about Mike Avery.  He is a great asset to this site and incredibly knowlegable and helpful.  I too hope he prints a hard cover book and have been encouraging him to do so.  Last time I checked his site he was still pulling the new edition together but I'll go to his site and purchase a copy of his latest edition.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

I am working on a hardcover book. I have about 2 weeks of work to do before I submit a proposal to publishers. We'll see. I'd rather not go the self-publishing route, although it is not impossible. Emily Beuhler at http://www.twobluebooks.com/ did a great kpb on "Bread Science."

As to the smaller books that are available on my web site, we're about to add a few more (we're talking weeks, not days or hours). The books have been through their first class and are being changed to reflect reality and proofread again.

All of the books I write and sell at http://www.sourdoughhome.com/breadshoppe.html have what I call a "limited lifetime update subscription" which means that as long as I'm still updating the books, and as long as I have your email address, I'll send you updated PDF's at no charge. So, you needn't wait for the next update to hit the web site.

Last weekend we had a class called "Simple Simon Met A Pieman" which was a peach pie class. We made peach empanadas, peach pies, peach cobbler and a peach tartain. It was a really peachy day. The students are in my mailing list, and when I redo the cookbook to add the blueberry and blackberry recipes when we have our next class, they'll get a free update. We'll probably also have a savory pie class, and the people from the two earlier classes, and anyone who has bought the book, will get another free update. This is one of the bog advantages of electronic publishing - I couldn't afford to give away updates to a printed book.

Some books change more than others. Most reach a pretty stable point, and then its years between updates. But, if you haven't dropped out of the mailing list, you still get updates when they occur.

Mike

holds99's picture
holds99

Mike,

That must be very exciting for you, getting the hardback book ready.  I have looked and as far as I can tell there's no one really dedicated to covering that baking niche.  With the constantly increasing interest in baking, particularly in sourdough, it would seem that there's a fairly good size market segment out there to be targeted.  Reinhart has proven the market is growing by leaps and bounds.  As you well know he has a number of books out now and the movement seems to be heading in the direction where cooking was shortly after Julia Child came out with Master The Art - vol I and launched The French Chef series in the 60's.  At least that's how I see it.  One consolation is that, left to it's own devices, The Food Network will end up driving all the cooks in the country into the baking arena.  Without naming names and with very few exceptions, we're talking seriously damaged goods on that network.

Anyway, put me down for 2 copies of the hardback when it's available.  In the meantime I'll  go to your site and check out the downloads.  I'm not being patronizing when I say I wish I lived closer, I would definitely take some of your classes.  I saw the pics of the classes and they look like fun.

Best of luck with your publishing endeavor and many thanks for your postings to TFL.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Hold 99 commented:

That must be very exciting for you, getting the hardback book ready.

 

Not the book, just the proposal. It's hard work, the book will be more of the same. And I'll probably be scarce around here for a while. Basically, you submit a table of contents, an outline, a marketing evaluation, a sample chapter or two, and in the case of cookbooks a recipe or two. And then you wait.

Hold99 went on to say:

One consolation is that, left to it's own devices, The Food Network will end up driving all the cooks in the country into the baking arena. Without naming names and with very few exceptions, we're talking seriously damaged goods on that network.

Some days I confuse easily. I think the food network is falling prey to the reality show mentality. "Food fight" takes on new meanings, I liked the first "Next Food Network Star" the current year is dreary. The challanges are absurd, as are the evaluations. And the Iron Chef shows are getting stale too.

Still, I don't quite understand what you mean about them driving chefs to become bakers, or the damaged goods.  Could you elaborate a bit? 

Later,

Mike

 

 

holds99's picture
holds99

Mike,

I guess to sum it up in a nutshell, in less than 20 years we've gone from Julia Child, Jacque Pepin and Lidia Bastianich to Rachael Ray and her ilk.  I fully understand that LaGasse and some of the others are using the network to promote restaurants and product (synergism) but the quality of what's being offered on Food Network seems like regression, from my vantage point.  As to damaged goods, from my point of view the Food Network seems to be replacing their knowledgable and experienced cooks e.g. LaGasse, Sarah Moultin, etc. and moving in less expensive replacements.  Alton Brown is strangely interesting and provides some fun and good food and techniques information.  However, most of the shows (you mentioned Iron Chef) are stale and more of the same.  Guess, I expect something along the lines of instruction and less "BAM!" and not having a group of cooks running around looking like they're trying to escape a theatre fire as they scramble around the kitchen looking for misplaced ingredients, utinsels, etc. (mise en place??) while the announcer breathlessly give a blow by blow description of what is happening through the fog of war.  Don't misunderstand me, I'm not against good entertainment, just against them misrepresenting what they're selling.  Hey, maybe it just me getting old or something.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

No it's not just you. The Food Network, used to be my favorite channel and own about 75% of my TV watching experience. This despite the fact that they never really had any bakers on. In fact they ignored baking all together. Poor Gale Gand had to hold the fort for everyone. But at least they had Mario Batali, Ming Tsai, Wolfgang Puck and Sara Moulton. Now the channel is all but unwatchable. On the plus side, I have a little more time to read this board and bake bread, instead of watching TV. :)

Ever since they had the change of management at the top, where the guy who started it retired the network went straight down hill.

Rudy

holds99's picture
holds99

You made my day.  I thought I was the odd man out.  I totally agree with you.  Emril has gone from working by himself in teaching mode without an audience (old days) to a cooking show that looks more like the Tonight Show than the Tonight Show...with a band, producers and production assistants falling all over each other.  I figured Food Network would figure out a way to get greedy and screw up a good thing.  I just thought it would take them longer to do it.

Amen to staying plugged into TFL.  So many great bakers and nice folks on this site.  This is definitely where to spend quality time.  Hang in there and thanks for your post.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

Hi Eric,

 

I kinda wonder who the fella who shares my name and handle is.  Does he walk on water?

 

More seriously, thanks for the kind words, even if I am blushing.

 

Mike

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"Gee, do you walk on water?"

Only if you know where the rocks are....

 

Yes, there were 3 men in a boat, fishing... a Rabbi, a Priest, and a Minister. :)

After a while, the Minister carefully stretched and stood up stepped out of the boat and walked across the water to shore. A short while later returned to the boat and continued fishing. Soon, and not to be outdone, the Priest stretched, yawned and stood up and stepped out of the boat and walked to shore dissappearing behind some bushes and promply returned to the boat the way he came, walking on water.

The Rabbi soon after, not to be outdone by his fellow scolars, thought it was his turn to walk to shore. So he yawned, stretched and stepped out of boat. No sooner had he done this, he was immediately surrounded by water and started to swim. As he was splashing around trying to get back in the boat, the Minister calmly leanded over toward the Priest and asked, "Should we tell him where the rocks are?"

Mini O