Our Friend: Foccacia

Ever since Alex got a bread book, we’ve used the following foccacia recipe for many occasions: Tom and Andy’s Wedding, Thanksgiving Day ’08, and even lots of events that we’ve never blogged about. We’ve been waiting to unleash this one for a while, and though it’s an interpretation of a recipe that doesn’t necessarily belong to us, we still get siked as hell every time we begin the 8-hour tour required to make such an awesome treat.
Making bread is like being friends. The more time you spend the better it tastes…err, is. The task can sound daunting, but the effort is more than worth it (plus most of the time you can spend reading, cleaning up, or hanging out anyway). After you make your first loaf you literally won’t believe how tasty something with so few ingredients is; it will make you want to stop buying sliced bread all together and do nothing but stay up all night fermenting loaves, finding ways to get more heat out of your oven, talking to flours…
Anyway, bread making is totally casual! Take some “me” time, follow along with our instructional video and recipe notes, and make yourself something awesome!

2+ 1/2 cups bread flour
1+ 1/4 Tsp. Instant Yeast
1+1/2 cup water
1. Combine the yeast and flour, and mix with your hands.
2. Add the water and stir to combine. You’re looking for a thick batter, like sludge, so add up to 1/2 cup extra water until the desired consistency is reached.
3. Cover with plastic wrap, and let ferment at room temperature for 4 hours.
3 cups poolish (all of what you just made)
2 and 2/3 cup bread flour
2 tsp. salt (kosher or grey is preferable)
1.5 tsp. Instant Yeast
6 Tbs. XVO
3/4 cups water
Extra water
Extra flour for dusting
1. Mix dry goods together in one bowl.
2. Add the wet ingredients to bowl and mix with your hands until the all the flour is hydrated and the whole mess becomes one big sticky ball. Work the dough by making your hand like a claw grabber and twisting down into the dough, like screwing in a giant lightbulb. While you do this, turn the bowl in the opposite direction of your dough throttling. If the dough is completely sticking to your hands, sprinkle a little flour on them and around the bowl and it’ll loosen right up. Do the twist/grab for 7 minutes, reversing directino from time to time to help develop the gluten.
3. Now, sprinkle some flour on a clean and dry surface (table top, giant cutting board, etc.) and gently transfer the dough to the flour. Pat and shape it into a rectangle and let it sit and relax for ten minutes.
4. Coat your hands with flour. Pick up the dough and gently stretch it out to twice its original length. Fold it like your laundry: one extended end goes to the center, then the other extended end goes on top. This should bring you back to the same size as you started with. The stretching helps develop the gluten and allows the yeast to grow evenly during fermentation, which will result in better texture and flavor in your end-loaf.
5. Spritz the top of the dough with canola oil, and sprinkle with a nice coat of flour. This will keep the dough from drying at all while you let it sit. Cover it loosly with plastic wrap and let ferment for 30 minutes.
6. Repeat the glutinous yoga outlined in step 4, then spray with oil and coat with flour. Cover with the same piece of plastic and let ferment for another hour.
…to be continued. While you wait, here’s a recipe for some herb oil for baking the bread in.
Herb Oil
1/2 cup XVO
1/8 cup fresh parsley,
1/8 cup fresh dill
1/8 cup fresh cilantro
1/8 cup fresh basil
1 shallot
6 garlic cloves
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 tsp. alleppo pepper, or red pepper flakes
1. Chop all the herbs, the garlic and the shallot.
2. Heat a small saucepan on medium heat. Toast the fennel seeds for three minutes.
3. Add all the oil and then all the other ingredients. When the oil begins to bubble and sizzle, remove from heat and cool.
Dimpling and Baking
1. Heat your over to 500 degrees.
2. Oil a 1/2 sheet pan: put a nice few spoonfuls of your herb oil down and rub the whole pan until its slick.
3. Gently transfer the ball of dough onto the pan.
4. Dump half the herb oil onto the top of the bread. Stretch the dough by sticking your fingers in and slowly pulling outwards, dimpling or fingering the bread until it reaches the edges of the pan. Be careful not to poke too aggressivley, you don’t want to bread the dough. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for thirty minutes so your oven can get nice and hot.
5. Dump any remaining oil onto the bread and gently dimple. Plop the monster in the oven, preferably on the highest rack, and bake for 10 minutes.
6. Rotate the sheet pan and reduce the heat to 450 degrees. Continue baking for 5-10 more minutes. When the bread has firmed up enough, you can check the bottom using a spatula to lift up a corner of the bread. When done, the top of the bread will be golden brown and all of the oil will be absorbed.
7. Enjoy! Finally!
Beverage: Telegraph’s Wheat Reserve
Soundtrack: The Best Of Bread

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One Response to Our Friend: Foccacia

  1. lo says:

    Oh, gosh — how did you know that me and foccaccia were close?? :) Friends, indeed!

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