Help with Focaccia Crust
For a while now I have been struggling with making focaccia. Specifically, I cannot seem to get a good bottom crust on my focaccia. The top of the focaccia is nice and brown and gorgeous-looking, and when I take it out of the oven, the bottom crust is completely pale -- cooked, to be sure, but white and not crispy.
I bake in an electric oven, with the rack a little below the middle of the oven (the oven has five rack levels, I use the second from the bottom).A baking stone lives in my oven; I make sure to preheat the oven to 500F for a good 45 minutes before baking. (Last time, I even used an infra-red thermometer to make sure the stone is warm enough). I bake at 450F, with the top and bottom heating elements on, without convection. I bake the focaccia in a pan, set directly on the stone. I use plenty of olive oil in the pan. I usually put parchment on the pan, although I have tried it once without parchment to no different effect.
My recent attempts have been with four different recipes: PR's focaccia from TBBA, Jim Lahey's from "My Bread", Craig Kominiak's (from the "Baking with Julia" book), and Richard Bertinet's from "Dough". All have yielded fantastic-tasting focaccia, but I so long for that bottom crust.
I would really appreciate some help from people who manage to great these great, crispy, golden-brown bottom crusts without overbaking the focaccia or burning the top.
My best guess is that the pan is the cause of your problem. It might not have good contact with the stone. Air is a great insulator and if it gets under your pan it will hinder browning. Is your pan sitting flat? Also, if the pan is heavy (like a cast iron) it will take too much energy in order to heat up, instead of transferring it to the bread.
I've found that the best pans to place on a baking stone are my thin aluminium pans, as they have good thermal conductivity and little mass.
Even better is no pan at all. Place the focaccia on an oiled parchment and bake it like a pizza. You might even find that preheating to 500F is too high for this method.
You can take a look at my old post of the recipe I like to use.
I use perforated aluminum sheet pans for some of my breads - they work very well for a nice crust with or without parchment. I bake my bagels on them, and the cheese bread, and some other breads that are difficult to load onto the stones with a peel. I got mine from Amazon (Canada) here> http://www.amazon.ca/STANTON-Stanton-1018P-Perforated-Aluminum/dp/B00I00BNDU/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1451694070&sr=8-4&keywords=perforated+pans
it is well greased. No problem with browning as the bottom will be as brown as the top. Olive oil is traditional but i mix it with canola oil to raise the smoking point a bit.
Actually, mixing oils won't raise the smoking point. It's sort of a "weakest link" case. see: http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/23857/whats-the-smoke-point-of-a-hybrid-oil
Maybe having the pan closer to the bottom element will help.
..it should be brown and crispy on the bottom. How about removing the FC from the pan then returning it to the oven for 3-5 minutes more baking direct on your baking stone? It's a trick used commonly for pan loaves which are crusty on top but not quite finished underneath.
Also, how thick is your FC? It's often tempting to bake them extra-thick. But traditional, original FC is quite thin, hence it's crispiness. The sheer amount of water in a thick dough might keep the base soggy.
Good luck, and let us know if and how you solve it.