Pane incognito (long)
This is a variation on Ciril Hitz's focaccia formula, adapted to my baking style. I use King Arthur Sir Lancelot (KASL) flour for this; the 14%-gluten content is a blessing.
Total flour = 100%
Total hydration = 80%
Formulas are great because you can adapt them so easily to fit your baking gear. I size the poolish to fit my small proofing container, and the loaf to fit the pan I'll bake in. 350g is perfect for mine.
Make the the poolish the night before:
Flour, 40% (140g)
Water, 40% (140g)
Yeast, about 1g
For the dough:
Flour, 60% (210g)
Water, 40% (140g)
Salt, 1.25% (4g)
Yeast, about 1g
All the poolish
Here's a photo of the poolish in my small Hefty Clip Fresh proofing container. This one has a 2.8 cup capacity and is perfect for my home-scale operation. I can proof about 300g of flour + water in this.
I mix dough with a Cuisinart HM-50 hand mixer equipped with spiral dough hooks. Enough power to knead a fairly stiff loaf, though I might not try a heavily whole wheat flour dough with it. Because the hydration rate is so high, even with a KASL flour I'll mix a full nine minutes. Believe me, you need all the early gluten development you can get. As you can see, even after nine minutes, the dough still looks almost like poolish.
I proof in a larger Hefty Clip Fresh. This one has a capacity of 8.3 cups. I’ve proofed up to about 800g of dough in it. I'll give the first rise a couple of hours. KASL is my friend: this high-gluten dough will not collapse.
The first stretch and fold is a sticky mess. The dough doesn't hold any shape at all, and you need a well-floured surface to keep it from sticking. Second rise mirrors the first. Second stretch and fold is only a little less messy than the first.
Here’s the sticky mess at first stretch and fold:
Then the dough goes into the pan. I use my stoneware quiche pan. It delivers wonderful weekly winter quiches, and has been begging for summer use. I spray with cooking spray and add the dough. I'll press it out a little, but it will need to rest between dimplings before I can get it to cover the bottom of the pan. Two or three should do it.
I bake this in my carousel convection/microwave oven. No pizza stone or fire brick necessary - just preheat the oven to 450, and when the dough has rested for about 10 minutes after final dimpling, into the oven it goes for 30 minutes. Perfect. Cool it in the pan for half an hour or so.
Focaccia is traditionally baked in rectangular metal sheet pans. When I first served this to my wife, she looked at the round loaf and said "What is that?" And so it came to be known as pane incognito.
Here’s a shot of the final loaf. I won’t cut into it until this evening, but I think we all know what it’s going to look like inside from the outside. Just enough bread to hold the holes together. Finished loaf is 10” wide and 2” tall.
The whole world of focaccia toppings is available to make it even more splendid. I like good old fashioned coarse sea salt. I don't think the bread is even one bit better with fat added at table- no olive oil dipping for me, no butter. And what a splendid sandwich it makes. The crumb is amazingly tender even with the high gluten content.
And everything fits: the poolish fits the small proofing container, the dough fits the larger proofing container, the dough fits the quiche pan, and the quiche pan fits the oven.