ANNE BURRELL’S FOCACCIA

You know you’ve been blogging for too long when you’ve got several focaccia recipes in your site…  Granted, I had no intention of trying a new recipe. Instead, for our Halloween party I was set on using one of my tried and true blogged about not too long ago. However, in typical Sally fashion, I never bothered to check the recipe the day before.  I knew I would be up very early and c’mon, how long can a focaccia dough take?  It turns out that very long. For the recipe I had in mind, the dough goes through a fermentation overnight in the fridge. Bummer.  A quick plan B was set into motion, and a frantic calm and collected google search took me to one of Anne Burrell’s recipes from years ago. Not surprising when Anne is concerned, her focaccia calls for a substantial amount of olive oil, more than any other I’ve ever made.  I actually cut the amount a little and it was still delicious and with a crust that left our guests going back for seconds. And thirds. A very simple recipe to put together even if you decide to bake focaccia on a whim.

Anne Burrell Focaccia

ANNE BURRELL’S FOCACCIA
(slightly modified from Food TV Network)

1 3/4 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
2 tsp Herbes de Provence
3/4  cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided (1/2 cup + 1/4 cup)
a little more olive oil for a final drizzle on top

Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low-speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining 1/4  cup olive oil. Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough.

Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse sea salt and Herbes de Provence, then lightly drizzle a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: Anne Burrell’s original version calls for a full cup of olive oil, half of it for the dough and half poured on the baking sheet. I simply could not bring myself to use so much oil, so I wrote the recipe with 3/4 cup total, but it could have been just a little less than that.  It was still decadent. You know how a good croissant leaves your fingers a bit coated with butter?  This focaccia will do the same. As Anne likes to say… accept it and move on.  Also, my personal advice for the move on part: increase your running distance a little bit next day, or add a few more push-ups and bicep curls to your routine…

DISCLAIMER

This recipe is not:

Paleo-friendly

Low-carb 

Low-fat

Gluten-free

Atkins-approved

Dukan-compliant

South-Beach friendly

Ketogenic

 

However, it is MIGHTY TASTY! 

😉

Anne Burrell Focaccia2

ONE YEAR AGO: Double Chocolate and Mint Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: Cappuccino Panna Cotta

THREE YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

FOUR YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

SIX YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: RUSTIC CIABATTA AND MINI-MEATLOAVES

FOUR YEARS AS A MEMBER OF THE SECRET RECIPE CLUB!

Rustic Ciabbata with Dates.
It’s that fun time of the month again, Reveal Day of The Secret Recipe Club, a virtual event in which food bloggers are assigned a site in secret, then blog about a chosen recipe at midnight of Reveal Day. In two words: incredibly awesome. But what is more awesome than that is the blog I got this month. I almost passed out from excitement, thrill, and joy. Why? Because my assigned site is one of my favorites in the whole food blogosphere: Karen’s Kitchen Stories. Just to make an analogy, if blogging was like acting, my Secret Acting Club assignment would be Meryl Streep. Yeap, that awesome!   I’ve been reading Karen’s blog forever, I consider her as one of my personal gurus in bread baking. She is the type of baker who is not afraid to push the limits, moving easily from tangzhong type breads to bialys, baguettes, all sorts of rustic sourdoughs, Pullman type loaves, really amazing what she can do with flour, water, salt, and yeast, often wild (the yeast, not her).  At my last count, she’s got 247 bread recipes in her blog. Two hundred and forty-seven. You can collect your chin off the floor now. I bookmarked so many recipes that it was not even funny. Just to give you a small sampling of the breads that tempted me: Cheese and Herb Happy Bread,  Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls , Corn and Jalapeno Rolls (oh, my!), English Muffin Bread (I really need to make this one!), Tangzhong Whole Wheat Bread (very interesting method), Kesra Moroccan Flatbread, Hawaiian Style Sweet Rolls (reminds me of my childhood in Brazil), Stuffed Pretzel Bites (O.M.G.!). Of course, that doesn’t include the breads from her site I already made like the delicious Ka’Kat. or Forkish’s Warm Spot Sourdough. But of course there’s a lot more than bread in her blog. For instance, if you like stir-fries, she has a section on Wok Wednesdays that is a must-follow, holding so far 57 entries.  The bottom line is, I had no choice but to make two recipes from her site. A rustic ciabatta, because it would be almost rude not to choose a bread from Karen’s blog, and some mini-meatloaves because they looked so incredibly cute, I could not stop dreaming about them…

Ciabatta Dates Flax2

RUSTIC CIABATTA WITH DATES AND FLAX SEEDS
(from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

for the soaker:
48 grams flaxseeds
72 grams (1/3 C) water
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for the poolish:
125 grams unbleached bread flour
125 grams (1/2 C) water
pinch of instant yeast
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for the final dough:
278 grams (~1 1/4 C) water
All of the poolish
300 grams unbleached bread flour
50 grams coarsely ground whole wheat flour
25 grams coarsely ground rye flour
10 grams (1 3/4 tsp) salt
2 grams (~ 3/4 tsp) instant yeast
All of the soaker
84 grams dried dates, seeded previously, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
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The night before baking day, mix the soaker and poolish in separate bowls. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Leave enough room in the poolish bowl for it to double in size.
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The next day (about 12 to 16 hours later), measure the 278 grams of water into a large bowl or dough rising bucket. Add the poolish, and mix it into the water with your hand to break it apart. Add the flours, salt, and yeast, and mix the dough with your hands, stirring, pinching, and folding the dough to absorb all of the flour and dissolve the salt and yeast. When you pinch the dough, you should not feel any grit.
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Once all of the ingredients are combined, mix in the soaker with your hand until evenly distributed. Add the dates, and mix to distribute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot.
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After 45 minutes, stretch and fold the dough over itself from all four “sides.” Repeat the 45 minute rest followed by a stretch-and-fold two more times (a total of 3 stretch-and-folds).  Let the dough rest for a final 45 minutes, covered, in a warm spot.
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Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, and gently nudge it into a rectangle. Be careful not to deflate the dough. Using an oiled bench knife, cut the dough into three equal pieces. Pick each piece up with floured hands and place it on a floured couche or parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with the rest of the couche or oiled plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, while you heat the oven to 475 degrees F, and set it up with a steam pan on the lowest rack and a baking stone directly above it. Fill a spray bottle with water.
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When the oven is at the correct temperature, transfer the loaves to the baking stone (see notes above, or place the baking sheet with the loaves on it in the oven). Place a cup of boiling water in the steam pan (cover your oven’s window), and spray the oven walls with water. Quickly close the door.  Bake the loaves for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. They are done when the internal temperature reaches 200 to 210 degrees F. Cool on a wire rack.
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ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here
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ciabattacollage
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Comments:
I made this bread in one of those perfect Saturdays!  Why? Because I woke up before 5am feeling super energetic, could hardly wait to get downstairs and play with my ingredients already measured since the evening before.  During the first 45 minutes rise I did a nice P90X yoga while the house was still dark, peaceful and silent…  As in a perfectly timed symphony, just as I finished my exercises, Phil woke up and made me a fantastic cappuccino…. the dogs immediately joined us in welcoming the weekend…Told ya: perfect Saturday!
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Back to Karen’s ciabatta: the dough was a pleasure to work with, gaining strength at each folding cycle. In the composite photo above, the dough is shown after the last folding cycle, all plump and shiny.  I used whole flaxseeds, Karen used ground, but I followed the exact same method, including the volume of water to make the soaker. You can use whatever type of flaxseeds you have in your pantry.  Most important thing is not to deflate the dough too much as you coach it into the ciabatta shape. The less you mess with it, the better.  You will be rewarded with a ton of holes, a very airy bread, comme il faut.
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Crumb shot
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We both loved this bread! The dates offer a burst of sweetness that plays well with the almost sour nature of the dough given by the extended fermentation of the poolish.  Cut a slice, toast it very very lightly, top it with some Gorgonzola and you will have to tie yourself to your seat not to fly away in a magic carpet….   Awesome combo.

 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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And now, for the bonus recipe from Karen’s site…  Adorable meatloaves in individual servings.  Her recipe used beef, I changed it slightly by using ground turkey.

miniloaves served11
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INDIVIDUAL MEATLOAVES WITH CHILI SAUCE

(adapted from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)
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1 shallot, coarsely chopped
1 rib celery, diced
1/3 cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup boiling water
1 pound 85% lean ground turkey
1/4 pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup jarred chili sauce, such as Heinz
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Spray a half sheet pan with spray oil and heat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse the shallot, celery, parsley, and bacon several times until well chopped.  In a large bowl, combine the oats and boiling water and stir. Add the mixture from the food processor and combine.
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Break up the ground turkey and pork and add them to the large bowl. Whisk the eggs and add them to the meat and oat mixture. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Add 1/4 cup of the chili sauce to the meat mixture. Mix with your hands until everything is well mixed.
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Divide the mixture into four equal parts and shape each into a small loaf, placing them onto the baking sheet. Take 1/2 cup of the chili sauce, and brush it over the four loaves.  Bake the loaves on the center rack for about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and brush the loaves with the rest (1/4 cup) of the chili sauce. Turn on the broiler, and place the pan back on the center rack. Broil for about 5 minutes, until the chili sauce just begins to brown.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here

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PicMonkey Collage11

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These meatloaves were sooooo good!  The chili sauce is a must, do not skip it. They turned out moist, flavorful, spicy but not overly so. I served them with sweet potato noodles that were recently published in my guest post over at Foodbod. The recipe made 3 loaves and we enjoyed them for dinner, then I had leftovers for my lunch a couple of days in a row. Heaven. Just heaven. If I may make a public confession, I had some slices straight from the fridge. Cold. Yeah, standing up, with a Jack Russell staring at me wondering how long it would take for Newton’s Law of Gravity to work its magic in his favor. HA!  Not a chance!

Karen, I hope you enjoyed your assignment this month. It goes without saying that I spent the past 4  weeks anticipating this Reveal Day, anxious to share the recipes I made from your blog. For my readers, if you don’t yet know Karen’s Kitchen Stories, stop right now and go pay her a visit.  Not only she is a great baker and cook, but a very cool person with great sense of humor and wit.  Plus, she is the Grandma of two beautiful boys, and lucky to live very close to them, so it’s easier for her to spoil them rotten.  I intend to follow her footsteps and do my best to spoil Greenlee at every chance I get…   Maybe one day I can teach Greenlee to bake a chocolate cake for her Dad too. Oops, did I just use “teach” and “bake a cake” in the same sentence?  Excuse me while I go grab a thermometer. I might be running a very high fever… (sigh)

ONE YEAR AGO: Green Rice

TWO YEARS AGO: Potato-Crusted Italian Mini-Quiches

THREE YEARS AGO: Beetroot Sourdough for the Holidays

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cod Filet with Mustard Tarragon Crust

FIVE YEARS AGO: Soba Noodles: Light and Healthy

SIX YEARS AGO: Potato-Rosemary Bread

KA’KAT, A MIDDLE EASTERN SNACK BREAD

These are serious contenders for the prize of World’s Cutest Bread… Plump, golden brown, topped with sesame seeds, they are simply irresistible! I found the recipe in Karen’s site, and fell in love at first sight.  I almost made them for the Nobel reception we hosted, but that day was frantic enough without bread baking. In a way, I’m glad I did not push the envelope and tried squeezing in one more culinary project.  But a couple of weeks later, I rolled my sleeves up and went to work.  Not only these are adorable little entities, but they are a ton of fun to make. Surprisingly easy too. I hope I convinced you to bake a batch soon.  You’ll need one exotic ingredient, though. Mahlab. Totally worth searching for, or if you want to make it easy on yourself, click on this link. 

KaKat Snack Bread

KA’KAT BREAD
(from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)

2 T sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups warm (105 to 115 degrees F) water
17 to 21 ounces of bread or unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground mahlab
1 large egg, beaten
3 to 4 tsp sesame seeds
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In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the sugar, yeast, and water. Add 12 ounces of the flour, and mix on low with the dough hook for about 3 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
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Add the salt and mahlab, mix on low. Gradually add flour until you have a dough that is cohesive (I used all of the flour). Mix on low for about 10 minutes. Let the dough rise in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 60 to 120 minutes.
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Line two baking sheets with parchment. Divide the dough into 32 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 6 inch rope. Form the ropes into rings and place them onto the baking sheets. Keep the rings covered with oiled plastic wrap. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes.
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Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and place the oven racks in the upper third of the oven. Brush the Ka’kat with the egg wash, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake the Ka’kat for about 20 minutes, until golden. Rotate the pans halfway through.  Let cool on the pans for about 5 minutes before serving warm.
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Leftovers can be reheated in a hot oven.
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ENJOY!
to print the recipe, click here
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composite

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As you know, I have way too many cookbooks, and quite a few are related to bread baking. Still, I could probably get rid of all of them and be happy baking along Karen’s yeast-steps. Yeap, I made up the word. How’s THAT for taking liberties with a second language? Daring is my middle name! Seriously, though. Karen bakes the most amazing breads, and I find myself bookmarking almost every single one of her posts “to make very soon.” Ka’kat was such a nice baking adventure! The dough is smooth, pliable, the smell of the mahlab giving that subliminal message… this is going to be one tasty bread…

Shaping the rings is very easy, although when the dough rises the central hole may or may not be closed… As Karen, I decided not to even worry about it…

Shaped-2
A nice coating with egg wash followed by sesame seeds sprinkled on top…

ShapedSprinkled

And there you have it, a batch of Ka’Kat ready to be enjoyed, shared with friends, or stored in the freezer for later…

KaKat Platter

I cannot recommend this recipe highly enough, it would be a great project to tackle with kids, they would have fun forming the little dough ropes and then the rings. If you don’t have mahlab, don’t let that stop you from making the bread, but I must say the seeds add a flavor that will leave everybody wondering “what’s in it?”


Karen, thank you once again for inspiring me!  I have so many breads I want to bake from your site, it’s not even funny… but I bet you knew that already…
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ONE YEAR AGO: Spinach and Chickpea Curry

TWO YEARS AGO: Sautéed Zucchini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

THREE YEARS AGO: Orzo with Heirloom Tomato Relish

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Rhubarb Brouhaha: Revelation Compote

SIX YEARS AGO: Love me tender…

THE DEVIL’S BREAD

For those who like it really hot…

Diablo Bread

It’s been a while since I blogged about bread, in fact I have a nice bread post waiting patiently in a long line to show up here, but last weekend I stumbled upon a very interesting recipe, and made it right away. I  simply could not wait to share because it’s so unusual and intriguing. A very simple no-knead dough using instant yeast, but here is the devilish twist: the dough is flavored with red pepper flakes and…. ready for this? Sriracha sauce!  Can you imagine it? Now, I am a certified Sriracha-cheerleader, but never imagined adding it to bread. Apparently no one had, until DeKay did a search in google for Sriracha and no-knead bread, and came up empty-handed. He took matters into his own hands (sorry, lousy pun), and made this version.  I could not wait to try it. It turned out awesome, and I think any Sriracha lover will fall in love with the devil after trying a piece.  Ok, if not with the devil himself, definitely with his bread..  But, before I give you the recipe, let me share a cartoon that cracked me up the other day. Perfect!

(Photo credit: Benjamin Schwartz/The New Yorker Collection/The Cartoon Bank)

Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons031905/Photo via Conde Nast

Conde Nast TagID: cncartoons031905/Photo via Conde Nast

THE DIABLO BREAD
(adapted from The Mad Scientist Labs)

400 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
7 grams table salt
1/2 teaspoon instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
260 grams cool water (55 – 65 °F)
60 grams (4 tablespoons) Sriracha sauce (go for it!)
Wheat bran for dusting

Mix the flour. salt, yeast, and pepper flakes together in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the water and Sriracha sauce. Mix using a wooden spoon or your hand until all of the flour is incorporated and the dough is sticky. This should only take 30 seconds or so. Add more water if the dough seems too dry.

Transfer the dough to another bowl lightly oiled or sprayed with cooking spray. Leave one hour at room temperature, remove the dough to a lightly flour surface and knead it 8 to 10 times.  Place it back in  the bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 3 more hours.  Place it in the refrigerator overnight (about 12 hours).   Remove the dough from the fridge,  dump it into a lightly floured surface, and shape it as a ball.  Place it in a banneton or another appropriate container seam side up, dusted with wheat bran for its final proofing, two hours at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 450 F.  After the shaped bread proofed for 2 hours, invert it on a sheet of parchment paper, so that the seam side is now down. Slash the surface with a serrated knife, and place it in the oven, using your favorite method to generate steam (I bake my bread inside a large Dutch oven, and cover it with a wet lid).

After 30 minutes, open the lid and allow the bread to brown for 10 to 15 minutes longer.  You can lower the oven to 425 F in case it is browning too fast.

Once the loaf is a nice dark brown, take it out of the pan and set it on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite11

Be honest with me. Have you ever seen a more awe-inducing color of a bread dough in your whole life? I know, you can hardly continue reading, you want to run away and call your family and close friends over, then your neighbors, and anyone else wandering the streets.  It is pure Sriracha beauty. My dear friend Denise saw this photo and said “you expect to see a flamingo flying out of the dough any minute”. I could not have said it better myself.

My basic change to the recipe was to take it from “no-knead” to “minimal knead.”  I’ve made enough no-knead breads to realize that just one small cycle of minimal kneading or folding does wonders to improve the texture of the crumb.  It is almost as though with no kneading whatsoever you’ll get a slightly harsher crumb, not very well structured.  One cycle of kneading gives the dough a little extra body that pays off in the final product.  Of course, you can skip it and go for a completely knead-free production, you won’t hurt my feelings…

The smell as this bread baked was something!  Sriracha on opioids. I fully agree with  DeKay on the taste, though. It is not overly spicy, baking seems to mellow some of its peppery nature, but make no mistake, it is hot. If you don’t like Sriracha, this bread is not for you. As to the red pepper flakes, I think I like the amount I added, not more.  Every once in a while you bite into a flake and get that hush of heat that lasts just a second or two.  Perfect.   I think this bread would be great paired with a bowl of chili in the winter, but if you toast it lightly and add some tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and run it under the broiler for a minute it is sinful.  Sinful. But then again, what else could you expect from The Bread of the Devil

 ;-)

Crumb1If you’ve been naughty enough, you can have several slices….

ONE YEAR AGO: Heart of Palm Salad Skewers

TWO YEARS AGO: Potluck Frittata and Lavoisier

THREE YEARS AGO: Home-made Corn Tortillas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Peanut Sauce

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brigadeiros: A Brazilian Party!

SIX YEARS AGO: Lemony Asparagus

FOCACCIA WITH A THRILL

When Phil and I sat down to plan the menu for our recent reception, the first thing he suggested was focaccia. Why? Because it is a crowd pleaser and I can make it in my sleep. But Sally’s mind works in mysterious ways. Instead of sticking with my tried and true recipe – the focaccia I blogged about when the Bewitching Kitchen was only 5 days old – I decided to try a completely new recipe. What enticed me was  its overnight rise in the fridge and with it, the promise of a sharper, more complex flavor.  Big risk? Maybe.  But, I am here to share with you great news:  I like this version even better than “the old one”.  The texture turned out perfect, and the taste was just the way I like it, with a very subtle hint of sourness, but mild enough that the focaccia paired well with all sorts of cheeses and dips.  The recipe published in Fine Cooking, comes with a big name behind it, Peter Reinhart. He knows his way around bread, and this formula proves the point.

IMG_0096OVERNIGHT HERBED FOCACCIA
(adapted from Peter Reinhart’s recipe, through Fine Cooking)

1 lb. 9 oz. (5-1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour
2-1/2 cups cold water (about 55°F)
2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar (1 oz.)
2 tsp. table salt or 3-1/2 tsp. kosher salt (1/2 oz.)
1 packet (1/4 oz.) instant yeast
10 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Dried Italian herbs (I used Pasta Sprinkle mix from Penzey’s)
Sea salt or kosher salt for sprinkling

The day before baking, mix the dough and let it spend the night in the refrigerator. Combine the flour, water, sugar, salt, and yeast in the large bowl of a stand mixer (use the paddle attachment, not the dough hook). Slowly mix until the ingredients form a ball around the paddle, about 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium low for another 3 minutes. Stop the machine to scrape the dough off the hook; let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then mix on medium low for another 3 minutes, until it’s relatively smooth.

Coat a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and rotate the dough to coat it with the oil. Hold the bowl steady with one hand. Wet the other hand in water, grasp the dough and stretch it to nearly twice its size. Lay the stretched section back over the dough. Rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat this stretch-and-fold technique. Do this two more times so that you have rotated the bowl a full 360 degrees and stretched and folded the dough four times. Drizzle 1 Tbs. of the olive oil over the dough and flip it over. Wrap the bowl well with plastic and refrigerate it overnight, or for at least 8 to 10 hours.

Shape the focaccia: Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator and start shaping the focaccia 2 to 3 hours before you intend to bake it. The dough will have nearly doubled in size. Cover a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat and coat the surface with 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Gently slide a rubber spatula or a dough scraper under the dough and guide it out of the bowl onto the center of the pan.

Drizzle 2 Tbs. of the olive oil on top of the dough. Dimple the entire dough surface, working from the center to the edges, pressing your fingertips straight down to create hollows in the dough while gently pushing the dough down and out toward the edges of the pan. At first you might only be able to spread the dough to cover about one-half to three-quarters of the pan. Don’t force the dough when it begins to resist you. Set it aside to rest for 20 minutes. The oil will prevent a crust from forming.

After letting the dough rest, drizzle another 2 Tbs. olive oil over the dough’s surface and dimple again. This time, you will be able to push the dough to fill or almost fill the entire pan. It should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. If it doesn’t stay in the corners, don’t worry; the dough will fill the corners as it rises. Cover the dough loosely with oiled plastic wrap, put the pan on a rack to let air circulate around it, and let the dough rise at room temperature until it’s about 1-1/2 times its original size and swells to the rim of the pan. This will take 2 to 3 hours, depending on the temperature of the room. Thirty minutes before baking, heat your oven to 475°F.

Bake the focaccia: Just before baking, gently remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle a few pinches of salt and dried herbs of your choice over the dough. Put the pan in the middle of the hot oven and reduce the heat to 450°F. After 15 minutes, rotate the pan to ensure even baking. Set a cooling rack over a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment (to catch drippings). Use a metal spatula to release the dough from the sides of the pan. Slide the spatula under one end of the focaccia and jiggle it out of the pan onto the rack. If any oil remains in the pan, pour it evenly over the focaccia’s surface. Carefully remove the parchment or silicone liner from beneath the focaccia. Let cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

IMG_0044

 

This dough was a pleasure to work with! I highly recommend this recipe if you have yeast-phobia, because it is simple, straightforward, and it will work perfectly no matter your skill level as a bread baker, I promise. If I had extra time, I would have made a rosemary-infused oil, but the dried herbs worked very well. You can use dried oregano, dried thyme, or get a mixture ready to use as I did.  Fines Herbes, Herbes de Provence, they can all work well topping the focaccia.

compositenewSO, WHERE IS THE THRILL?

BuckBoy

Did you call me, Mom? 

The Saturday before our reception was one of my busiest cooking days ever. Still, when I took the focaccia out of the oven, I decided to do a quick run to the recycling center, to dump our glass waste. Buck is my buddy for these outings, the only one who likes to ride in the car with me (Oscar has the shakes whenever faced with a drive).  Got there early, no one around,  so I mentally patted myself on the back: “Great job, Sally, you can park right by the glass container spot, in and out in 30 seconds. You rock!”  So I got off the car and left the engine running, my handbag inside with Buck. Rush out, rush back, done! Done? Not so fast. It was more like “rush out, rush back, shock and horror!  The doors were locked! Buck must have jumped on the switch when I left and locked them. If you lock one side from the inside, both doors get locked. I know, perverse technology. Big, huge shiver up and down my spine. The drama unfolded as I entered the recycling office in complete panic, barely able to form complete sentences, begging to use their phone to call for help… This HUGE guy sweet as a teddy bear said “maybe I’ll be able to help you….” – and he comes out with a bunch of gadgets worthy of a professional burglar… a little inflatable black plastic bag that he pushed through the door and pumped just enough to get a little opening, then a big wire – he manipulated it like a pro to hit the control to bring the window down. Of course, Buck is going NUTS inside, in complete disapproval of that humongous human being next to his Mom and messing with the pickup truck….

My life doesn’t have that many dull moments, I tell ya! It was a wild, wild ride…. So, my advice for you: never ever EVER leave your car running with a dog inside. Lesson painfully learned, but with a happy ending. All things considered, it could have been much worse…  

FocacciaPiecesWe are ready to party! What about you?

 

ONE YEAR AGO:  Raspberry Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Mousse “Légère comme une plumme”

THREE YEARS AGO: Black Olive Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Buttermilk Cluster 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Farfalle, Farfalle

ONE GIFT, THREE BREADS!

As I recently mentioned, Celia sent me a perfect birthday gift last month. I shared with you my first homework under the guidance of Josey Baker, a loaf of his Olive Bread. It was a super simple no-knead recipe. So simple that a 5-year old under the influence of too much candy and a cup of coffee stolen from Mom would be able to make without any problem.  The following weekend I baked a variation of that loaf with sesame seeds in the dough.  But, that time I decided to incorporate one cycle of folding at the end of proofing.  Just that single cycle of folding gave quite a bit more structure to the bread, so consider doing that if you like to experiment with his recipes. And, here it is…

BREAD NUMBER ONE:  SESAME LOAF

Josey suggests coating the bread in sesame seeds before baking, but I did not do that because I find that many seeds go to waste as they fall off during baking. Also, I prefer the texture of the crust without them. The little seeds you see here and there are just saying hello from inside the dough. Be polite and say hello back to them, ok?

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You can find the recipe, published with permission from Josey Baker, by following this link.

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BREAD NUMBER TWO: BLACK PEPPER ASIAGO CHEESE SOURDOUGH

It was time for me to go the whole nine yards putting my sourdough starter to work after a long hiatus in the freezer. What could be better than a very unusual formula using black pepper and chunks of Parmigiano in the dough? I modified it slightly, using Asiago cheese instead, and adding almost twice the amount of cheese called for in his formula.  Part of it shredded, most of it in small chunks.  Take a look at my baby, as it cooled over the rack:

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and the crumb…. did you notice the chunks of cheese in all their glory? how about the tiny pepper specks?

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This was a pretty spectacular loaf of bread. I had never thought of adding black pepper to bread dough, but it provided a very mysterious taste, not clearly associated with pepper. That flavor intensified in the following days, by the way.  A winner. Definitely a winner. This bread baking adventure got me soooo excited that I baked another loaf next day, can you imagine that?  So, without further ado…

BREAD NUMBER THREE: HEARTH SOURDOUGH

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This was a special loaf because I baked it for a colleague from the Department of Biology. She is originally from Germany and often complains that it’s impossible to find great bread in our town. Ok, we do have a Panera, but I imagine she shares the same views we do on their breads. Barely ok.  Nothing to compare with those incredibly delicious, hearty breads from bakeries in Europe.  So, Phil thought we should surprise her by baking a special sourdough loaf as a gift.  Once my Black Pepper Asiago bread turned out so well, I immediately mixed another batch of dough, but kept it simple just to be safe. On a Monday morning, 5am, there I was baking this loaf, which stayed overnight in the fridge after shaping. As I said before, Josey provides all types of alternative schedules to allow you to bake bread.  You can find a slightly modified version of the recipe with a jump here.

I can tell you that nothing beats the smile of a person who is at the receiving end of a loaf of bread, still warm from the oven!  Especially when she had no idea it was coming. A great way to start our week…

I hope you enjoyed this triple bread series. Of course, I should thank Celia once again for her gift that ended up introducing me to Josey Baker’s world.

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Life is good!

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Chestnut Flour Sourdough Loaf

TWO YEARS AGO: Kinpira Gobo and Japanese Home Cooking

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Thai Chicken Curry

FIVE YEARS AGO: Zen and the art of risotto

JOSEY BAKER’S OLIVE BREAD

You would think that I’m done talking about gifts. Sorry, there is one more, a super special gift received from Celia, the bread baking Goddess Extraordinaire from Australia, hostess of the equally extraordinaire food blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.  She found out that it was my birthday last month (full disclosure: I told her), and sent me a bread cookbook: Josey Baker Bread.   I was traveling at the time, but could not wait to get my hands on some flour, salt, and yeast to put my gift to use.  Of course, my first thought was sourdough, but we’ve been so busy lately, that every Wednesday would come and go, and I never remembered to revive my starter, hibernating in a – 20°C freezer.  Finally, I could not wait any longer, and tried one of the simpler recipes using commercial yeast.  This is by far one of the easiest breads you can make. All it takes is preparing a pre-ferment with whole-wheat flour, allowing that to sit at room temperature overnight, then proceed with a no-knead formula next day.

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OVERVIEW OF THE RECIPE: to make this bread, you will start by mixing whole wheat flour with water and a little commercial yeast.  That mixture will bubble away overnight, and will be part of the final dough, which contains only white flour, a little salt, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, and of course black olives.  I actually omitted the rosemary because I did not have any at home then.  I increased the amount of lemon zest, but other than that the recipe was followed to a T.

It is essentially a no-knead bread, with a very flexible schedule as far as preparing the dough and baking it. This is one of the things I loved the most about his cookbook: Josey offers a timetable for all his recipes, so that you can adjust making bread to your own schedule, no matter how busy you are. If you rather stay up late to bake, follow one particular timing. If you prefer to bake first thing in the morning, follow another one. Baking in the end of the afternoon? At lunch time? It’s all doable. Part of the beauty of working with yeast. If you are new to bread baking, this book will be perfect for you, because it totally demystifies the process. Reading the book is the closest thing to having a class on bread baking given by a pro who behaves more like a friend, not a snotty professor. Yeap, that is what Josey Baker’s book is all about.

If you want the full recipe, it is available online, reprinted with permission from Josey on this site.

 

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For a no-knead bread, the crumb has quite a nice structure, and the taste is wonderful!  The lemon zest was very prominent, and I think rosemary would make this bread perfect. But I would never substitute dried rosemary because I dislike its texture. In fact, one of the spices I rarely use in dried form is rosemary for that very reason.  Unless it is part of mixes such as Herbes de Provence, but in that case it is pretty much pulverized and the drawback of harsh texture is eliminated. Still, get your hands on some fresh rosemary, grab your bag of flour and make this bread. The smell while it bakes is out of this world delicious! And refrain from grabbing one of those olives that will be peeking on the surface of the loaf.  It is bad bread etiquette, and resisting that temptation builds character. HA!

Celia, thanks so much for the thoughtful gift! Special friends make getting one year older “almost’ painless…
😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Almonds, a Cookbook Review

TWO YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, April 2012

FOUR YEARS AGO: A Dutch Tiger

FIVE YEARS AGO: Banana Bread