BBA#13: Focaccia

focacciaready

Not quite sure how else to put it: I LOVE focaccia! In fact, it was one  of my very first posts in Bewitching Kitchen, a straightforward recipe we’ve enjoyed countless times. If you haven’t seen it, click here for a flash back.

In the Bread Baker’s Challenge, it was time for Peter Reinhart’s recipe, which is a lot more involved. Whereas my usual method takes you from flour to baked focaccia in a little over an  hour, Reinhart’s calls for  almost 3 hours of preparation, followed by an overnight sleep in the refrigerator.  The next day it involves 3 more hours until baking;   I was understandably  anxious to see the results.

But first, the process…

As the ingredients mix it won’t look very promising…
dough1

But don’t worry about it, just get the dough hook going…. and going… and going… it might take 10 minutes to get it smooth

dough2.

This is exactly how it’s supposed to be: almost clearing the sides of the bowl, but still sticky at the bottom

Now, be brave and with wet hands, remove the dough to a heavily floured surface…

dough3

and proceed to make three folds, 30 minutes apart.  Don’t forget to enjoy the amazing changes in texture, as the dough gains strength and shape with minimal effort…

fold1fold2finalfold

I confess to having a bit of trouble with the next step.  It was tricky to move the dough to the sheet pan. If you have helpers around, line them up, and flour their hands… heavily. In fact, it might be even better to follow Paul’s suggestion (a fellow baker who recently posted about it here ), and transfer the dough to the sheet pan right after the last fold. It will make your life easier. ;-)

sheetpan1

Reinhart’s herb oil is a must, I will definitely incorporate it in my focaccia from now on, no matter the recipe.

herboilsheetpan2

The next morning, after 3 hours of final rise at room temperature, the focaccia goes into the oven!

ready2

a few final comments after the jump….

The moment of truth. Which recipe is better? First of all, they are totally different. My regular recipe always produce very large, uneven holes, and it has a creamier texture.

foccaciaold

Reinhart’s version is lighter, has wonderful flavor, and might work better in a focaccia sandwich, for instance.

All things considered, I  will stick with the recipe from “No Need to Knead”, as in my previous post. The fact that it is much faster is not the deciding factor in my choice.  In my mind, it fits the description of focaccia  better than the BBA’s.  However, I will improve that recipe by using Reinhart’s herb oil.  Without divulging too much, he makes an infusion instead of simply drizzling oil and adding fresh herbs on top, intensifying the flavor.  I had fresh thyme, rosemary, and basil in my garden, which all went into the infusion.

My favorite focaccia (as of August 2009) now consists of the “No Need to Knead Recipe” with an infused herb oil on top…

10 thoughts on “BBA#13: Focaccia

  1. I have made both of these recipes and I like the No Need to Knead one because it’s good and it’s sooo easy! It seems that when I decide to make focaccia, time is of the essence. And since few of my friends make bread, I never get complaints…Thanks for reminding me of the herb oil, I must make some.

  2. Beautiful!

    I have to check out No Need to Knead because I thought the Reinhart one did not have the texture I remember.

  3. Pingback: Herbed Focaccia from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice — Pinch My Salt

  4. I made the Reinhart Focaccia over the past two nights, and I’m a bit disappointed by the very uniform texture, and a sort of lack of “artisanal” quality. The crumb is a bit on the cakey side, which makes it seem a bit supermarket-ish. Did I do something wrong? I was very unsure that I’d gotten the texture right in the mixer. I also goofed and bought active dry instead of instant yeast. Still a novice, so any advice is appreciated.

    I agree that the herb oil is excellent.

    • Hello!
      Your assessment exactly matches mine – cakey and supermarket-ish… :-)
      Lots of people had the same impression. I now settled on my regular focaccia recipe (also posted in this site), adding Peter Reinhart’s herb oil to it. That one gives all the hole structure a focaccia should have, and it is one of the simplest recipes you’ll ever make! Give it a try!

      Thanks for stopping by….

  5. Pingback: BBA Focaccia & New Beginnings « Bon Vivant

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