A focaccia is a flat bread, much in the tradition of pizza. It can be made from just about any type of dough, but is commonly made with a wet, herbed dough with a goodly amount of oil and some oil on the baking sheet — some say the more oil on the sheet the better. The resulting bread usually has a very open structure with a delightful hint of the herbs. This recipe uses quite a lot of oil and two different herbs. You can use just about any herb or combination of herbs you want. My favorite is rosemary, but basil, marjoram and thyme are also good. I haven’t tried sage, but to stuff a turkey or chicken, maybe a batch of focaccia made with sage and other stuffing herbs would be a good addition to the stuffing.
Many focaccia recipes specify that the focaccia should be topped with cheese, tomatoes, artichokes or other pizza toppings. This can give you problems, because the various toppings cook at different rates and times. Peter Reinhart, in his classic “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice,” gives a very useful timetable (for want of a better word) on when to add the various toppings. In a nutshell,
A. Pre-proof toppings, added before final proof: Marinated sun-dried tomatoes, olives, roasted garlic, fresh herbs, walnuts, pine-nuts, other nuts, sauteed mushrooms, red or green peppers or onions
B. Pre-bake Toppings, added before baking: High-moisture cheeses, such as blue, fresh mozzarella, feta, cooked ground meat or meat strips, salt or sugar
C. During-bake toppings, add at the half-way point of baking: Dry or semi-hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, Romano, regular mozzarella, Jack, Cheddar and Swiss
The recipe here is one I have developed from several sources. It provides a very good focaccia in a reasonable amount of time with a moderate amount of effort.
The recipe may seem very difficult, but if you break it up into the component parts, it really is very easy.
There are several parts to consider:
- The poolish
- The herbed oil
- The steeped rosemary
- The dough itself
- Any toppings you may add — I use the rosemary and herbed oil here
Once you start the poolish, you can make the herbed oil and the steeped rosemary, then put it all together and make the dough.
|Dry Yeast||1 tsp||5 ml|
|Dried Herbs||1 Tbsp||15 ml|
Dough, in addition to poolish
|Rosemary Water||6||170 ml|
|Olive Oil||6||170 ml|
|Powdered Rosemary||1/2 Tbsp||7.5 ml|
|Dried yeast||1 tsp||5 ml|
|Salt||2 tsp||10 ml|
Method for Making a Focaccia
1. Make a poolish of 10 ounces / 285 grams each bread flour and water and 1 teaspoon / 5 ml yeast.
2. Age the poolish as you wish, anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days.
3. Boil 7 or 8 ounces / 200 to 225 ml of water. Turn off heat and add 1 tablespoon / 15 ml of dried rosemary. Let steep until the water is cool.
4. Strain out the rosemary and reserve both the leaves and the water.
5. Heat 4 ounces / 115 ml of olive oil to about 100F / 40 C. Turn off heat and add 1 Tablespoon / 15 ml dried basil, or any other herbs you want. Let this steep until cool.
6. Make a dough of the poolish, the bread flour, 6 ounces / 170 ml of the rosemary water, the olive oil, the powdered rosemary and the yeast.
7. Mix together for a minute or two, until the dough begins to come together.
8. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
9. Add salt and mix for 6 minutes.
10. Cover and let ferment for 30 minutes. Then fold gently.
11. Cover and let ferment for 30 minutes. Then fold gently.
12. Cover and let ferment for 20 minutes.
13. Cover/line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and oil it heavily, including up the sides.
14. Plop the dough on the sheet and work the dough out to cover the whole sheet. This will take some time, as the dough will spring back a lot. Let the dough rest a bit from time to time. This should take about 10 minutes of off-and-on working the dough.
15. When the dough is stretched out, cover it with some of the herb oil and any pre-rising toppings you want to use.
16. Let the dough rise for one hour.
17. Heat the oven to 500F / 260C.
18. When the dough is risen, cover it with some more herbed oil and the reserved rosemary leaves. Dimple the dough heavily with your fingers. Add any pre-bake toppings you want to use. The dimpling will make places where the oil will collect. Don’t be afraid to add a bit more oil.
19. Let the oiled, topped dough rest for 15 minutes.
20. Turn the heat to 450F / 230C and put the pan in the oven.
21. Bake 10 minutes, then shift the dough in the oven to ensure even baking and add any during-bake toppings.
22. Bake the dough until done, an internal temperature of 200F / 93-95C.
23. Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack and remove the parchment paper.
Here we go:
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