April 1, 2020
The last time I made Focaccia was New Years Eve to go with one of the courses in an Italian dinner I made for friends.
It's one of those breads that reminds me of Kim.
The first meal she ever cooked for me after we were married, food poisoned me.
She made us fish and realized it was undercooked. She popped her plate in the microwave and forgot to microwave mine as well.
Let's just say we both felt bad after that incident.
She responded by encouraging me to take cooking classes and one of the first classes I took included a recipe for Focaccia. We would make it now and then for years and it always came out well.
That is not the recipe we'll make today.
One of the things about posting recipes is that it has forced me to look at many different recipes for the same product. For Focaccia there are wide variations. Some include oil in the dough some don't. But the biggest difference is the amount of water in the mix.
Focaccia tends to be a wet dough but a tweet by Neven Mrgn the other night caught my eye because he posted a picture of his focaccia and said that it was 80% hydration. I noted that that was much higher than I was used to and that I would try that. Neven responded that he has taken it up to 100% hydration without much of a difference in the final bread.
I don't want today's post to be about theory - we need to bake something, but I'll come back to discussing hydration this weekend.
The recipe I'm going to give you has just under 90% hydration. It's going to feel almost like pancake batter. Just have faith that it's going to work out. - or - use a half cup less water if you prefer.
So here we go. Remember you can adjust the amounts here to double everything or halve everything. We'll talk about ratios in a later post but the idea is the amounts given below are relative to each other. If you want to make more, just multiply each ingredient by the same amount.
If you have a mixer that can handle dough, that works well here.
Mix 3 cups of all purpose flour (400 g), a heaping teaspoon of yeast (4 g), and one tablespoon of salt (8 g).
Add a cup and a half of warm water (350 g) and stir the mixture together.
Mix until everything is well mixed. If you use the amount of water I specify above, this looks like a thick pancake batter.
Oil a bowl. I used 2 tablespoons of olive oil which leaves a puddle on the bottom of the bowl. Pour the batter into the bowl. Scrape it all in. Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place for an hour or two. You're looking for the batter to double.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F / 230 degrees C.
When the dough has doubled, oil a baking pan. I used a casserole dish but a cake pan will do. You need a pan big enough that the batter comes up no more than half way.
Pour a tablespoon or more of oil on top of the bread and use your fingers to push the dough to cover the entire pan. You'll end up dimpling the bread which gives it its classic look.
I sprinkled some flaked sea salt on top. You may want to use less salt in the mix as this will add salt to salt but I thought it was delicious.
Other variations include adding herbs to the dough. Classic is rosemary. Some people infuse rosemary in the oil you're going to use as the flavor will be more intense and distributed. Rosemary on top can burn.
Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes. I sometimes dimple it again before putting it in the oven but there's no real need.
Bake for 25 minutes and take a look at it. The bread should smell great when you walk into the kitchen and the top of the bread should be golden brown. If it's not ready, bake for another 5 - 10 minutes checking it periodically.
Take the bread out of the oven and - now the hard part - let it cool for at least ten minutes. Use a metal spatula to release the bread from the pan and take it out. It's really easy for the bread to stick to the bottom. Do the best you can to take it out, but if it tears it is still really good. Sometimes I cut the bread and take out a half at a time if one half is particularly sticking. I take out the easy half and then that gives me access to get the spatula under the sticking half.
Eat and enjoy.