Focaccia

No-knead bread was a hot internet topic several years ago when Mark Bittman wrote about it in his Minimalist column in the New York Times. The recipe was from a baker, Jim Lahey, who had come up with this great way to make bread with almost no heavy work like kneading involved. What was required instead was time. A lot of time… the dough needs to have between 12 and 18 hours to rise and another 1 to 2 hours after it’s been shaped to rise again.

I’ve wanted to try making this bread since I first read about it, but something always stopped me. When I had enough flour, I already had bread, so there was no need. When I ran out of bread, I didn’t have enough flour. Or I didn’t have the time required. As the bread was said to be foolproof, I wanted to see if I was the person who could mess it up.

But instead of a loaf of bread, I’m easing into the process by making focaccia. It’s closer to pizza than bread, and I have success with that kind of dough. The thinking here is to start slow and sneak up on my repeat attempt at bread making. Here goes!

Different from a lot of other breads, this recipe calls for a potato.

Potato.

Potato.

Chopped and cooked potato.

Cooked potato.

Cooked potato.

Potato, pureed with the cooking liquid.

Pureed potato.

Pureed potato.

Flour, yeast, sugar and salt.

Flour, yeast, sugar and salt.

Flour, yeast, sugar and salt.

The potato puree is added.

Adding the potato to the flour mixture.

Adding the potato to the flour mixture.

That’s mixed together and this is the result.

Focaccia dough.

Focaccia dough.

After 3 hours, the dough has tripled in size.

3 hours later.

3 hours later.

Before touching the very sticky dough, prepare the baking sheet.

Baking sheet and olive oil.

Baking sheet and olive oil.

Stretch the dough out to fill the baking sheet.

Into the baking sheet.

Into the baking sheet.

Chop some rosemary (and some garlic).

Chopped rosemary.

Chopped rosemary.

Sprinkle the chopped rosemary and garlic over the dough, then push it in with your fingertips.

Focaccia dough with rosemary and garlic.

Focaccia dough with rosemary and garlic.

Bake the dough for 30 – 45 minutes.

Focaccia.

Focaccia.

Success! This focaccia tastes great and is quite easy to make.
Focaccia, served with olive oil for dipping.

Focaccia with olive oil for dipping.

Focaccia with olive oil for dipping.

From the book My Bread by Jim Lahey.

Focaccia

1 peeled Yukon Gold potato, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 cup)
2-1/2 cups cool water
4-1/2 cups bread flour
2-1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

Directions

1. Put the potatoes and water in a small saucepan, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the potato chunks fall apart when pierced with a fork or knife tip.

2. Use a blender, an immersion blender or a food mill to puree the potatoes with the cooking water until smooth. Let the mixture cool to 120 degrees F; it will feel very warm to the touch but not scalding.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar and half the salt. Add the potato puree and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough is tripled in size, about 2 to 3 hours.

4. Lightly oil a 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the baking pan. It will still be quite loose and sticky. Gently pull the dough and stretch it across the surface of the pan., then oil your hands and press the dough evenly out to the edges. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the oil and sprinkle with the remaining salt (and whatever herbs or seasonings you want to use). Use your fingertips to create dimples all over the surface of the dough. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it has all risen just over the edges of the pan, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

5. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, with a rack in the centre.

5. Gently place the focaccia in the oven on the centre rack (the risen dough is delicate; a bump going into the oven could collapse it) and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the top is evenly golden brown. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool, and give it at least a few minutes before slicing and serving warm or at room temperature.

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