Before leaving for Canada, I had the chance to stock up on a few recipes for the blog. I did not realize that staying with family and such a hectic course schedule would leave me with not much time to spend on the blog. And hence my absence. And also why I haven’t been able to reply to your messages and mails. Sorry! I’ll get to it soon!
I also had the chance to shoot another video tutorial. I thought it looked fine when I shot it, but when I came to Canada and tried working on it, it just did not feel right. I would work on it a few hours, not like it, trash the project and then start the next day again. There are actually four versions of this video that I made and none of them turned out to be what I wanted.
But, I am still posting the video because I love this recipe for Focaccia bread. It’s from Peter Reinhart’s book the Bread Bakers’ Apprentice and not that I have tried other Focaccia recipes (one of my friends’ told me the one on Annie’s Eats site is pretty good), with this recipe I never really felt the need to try another one. It does require you to plan a little ahead of time, but if you truly want a crusty outside and a chewy inside, you do need to take that extra step. Kind of like Peter Reinhart’s Pizza dough. Believe me, it’s one of the best pizza dough recipes you will ever try. And so is this recipe for Focaccia bread.
Even though it takes time it is mostly inactive time – stretching, folding, and resting, then more stretching, folding and resting. And then comes the overnight rest in the refrigerator. Followed by a 3-hour rise the day you are baking the bread. In a nutshell, a lot of waiting. But all of it is so worth it. And so is making that herb oil that Peter drizzles the bread in before baking it. Your kitchen will smell like heaven and your nose will thank me (well, Peter actually) for it! Trust me!
I did do something different with this video from the last one I posted for making Khandvi at home. Although there is a version in my drafts which listed all the ingredients and the quantity required in the video, I felt that with this recipe you do need to refer to the recipe in its entirety and so have left out the measurements of the ingredients from the video. Other than that I have tried my best to explain how to spread out the dough, by dimpling it using your fingers only and not the palm of your hand. That way you degas only part of the dough, while preserving gas in other parts. Also, the dimples collect the herb oil and as the bread bakes create a flavorful bread with a crisp crust and tender interior. And the reason why your kitchen will smell great!
- 5 cups high-gluten or bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups water, at room temperature
- ½ cup Herb Oil
- Extra olive oil for the pan
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1 cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, savory, and sage) – OR – ⅓ cup dried herbs or a blend such as herbes de Provence
- 1 tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic or 5 to 6 fresh cloves, minced
- Warm 2 cups of olive oil to about 100 degrees F. Add 1 cup of chopped fresh herbs or ⅓ cup dried herbs. Add the salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir together and allow to steep while you prepare the dough. You can keep any leftover herb oil in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (it makes a fabulous dipping oil!).
- Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and water and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until all the ingredients form a wet, sticky ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. You may need to add additional flour to firm up the dough enough to clear the sides of the bowl, but the dough should still be quite soft and sticky. You could also knead by hand. If kneading by hand, first mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon and when mixed knead by hand into a smooth yet sticky dough.
- Dust your work surface with flour, and transfer the sticky dough to the bed of flour and dust liberally with flour, patting the dough into a rectangle. Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax.
- Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough from each end to twice its size. Fold it, letter style, over itself to return it to a rectangular shape. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil, again dust with flour, and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
- Let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough again; mist with spray oil, dust with flour, and cover. After 30 minutes, repeat this one more time.
- Allow the covered dough to ferment on the counter for 1 hour. It should swell but not necessarily double in size.
- Line a 17 by 12-inch sheet pan with baking parchment and drizzle ¼ olive oil over the paper, and spread it with your hands or a brush to cover the surface.
- Lightly oil your hands and, using a plastic or metal pastry scraper, lift the dough off the counter and transfer it to the sheet pan, maintaining the rectangular shape as much as possible.
- Spoon half of the herb oil over the dough. Use your fingertips to dimple the dough (see video) and spread it to fill the pan simultaneously. Do not use the flat of your hands – only the fingertips – to avoid tearing or ripping the dough. Try to keep the thickness as uniform as possible across the surface. Dimpling allows you to degas only part of the dough while preserving gas in the non-dimpled sections. If the dough becomes too springy, let it rest for about 15 minutes and then continue dimpling. Don’t worry if you are unable to fill the pan 100 perfect, especially the corners. As the dough relaxes and proofs, it will spread out naturally. Use more herb oil as needed to ensure that the entire surface is coated with oil.
- Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or for up to 3 days).
- Remove the pan from the refrigerator 3 hours before baking. Drizzle additional herb oil over the surface and dimple it in. This should allow you to fill the pan completely with the dough to a thickness of about ½-inch. Cover the pan with plastic and proof the dough at room temperature for 3 hours, or until the dough doubles in size, rising to a thickness of nearly 1 inch.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
- Place the pan in the oven. Lower the oven setting to 450 degrees F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking the focaccia for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it begins to turn a light golden brown. The internal temperature of the dough should register above 200 degrees F (measured in the center).
- Remove the pan from the oven and immediately transfer the focaccia out of the pan onto a cooling rack.
- Allow the focaccia to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing or serving.