Sunday, 9 December 2012

Focaccia (Using Poolish)

The basic Focaccia recipe below is from Bread Technique and Mark Witt (2008).  I wanted to try his recipe first before trying that of Peter Reihnart.  You can choose any topping of your choice.


350 g bread flour
500 ml water*
1/8 tsp of instant yeast

Focaccia dough
200 g bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
11 g (1 ¼ teaspoon) salt**
40 g extra virgin olive oil

Topping 1 (herbed oil)
80-100 g extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tsp sweet powdered paprika
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped garlic

Topping 2 (Optional)
More powdered paprika
Black olives (sliced)
Cheddar cheese (grated)

* Original recipe called for 400 ml water, but mine required 500 ml water to achieve the right batter consistency
** I used exactly 11 g salt for my focaccia and found it a bit salty. It was even more salty with the cheese!  I would suggest around 1 teaspoon of salt.

Method (Using Poolish)

----------------------------------Day 1 - Making the poolish----------------------------------

1.  Combine the flour (350 g) and instant yeast together.  Stir in the water and mix till it resembles a heavy batter.  Cover with cling film and let set for 8-12 hours on the counter.  Store in the refrigerator overnight.

----------------------------------Day 2 - Making the focaccia----------------------------------

1.  To the poolish, add the yeast; cover the yeast with the flour (200 g); Add the bread improver and salt on top of the flour; and finally pour the oil somewhere near the edge of the bowl.  Make sure you do not add the ingredients altogether (the yeast may be killed if mixed directly with the salt).

2.  Mix for about a minute just to bring the ingredients together.  Knead for about 4 minutes with a dough hook.  Stop the mixer and let rest for 10 minutes.  Knead for another 4 minutes and let rest for 10 minutes again (Resting allows good hydration).  Finally, knead for 4 more minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.  It should be very sticky, clear the sides of the bowl but cling to the bottom of the bowl.

3.  With oiled hands, turn the dough into a generously oiled bowl and form a ball. Flip the dough over to coat both sides with oil.  Cover and place in the fridge overnight.  Punch it down once or twice if you like a finer crumb and a flatter bread.

----------------------------------Day 2 - Making the herbed oil----------------------------------

1.  Warm the oil in a Microwave or under a double boiler.  Add the herbs and spices.  Store in an airtight jar.

----------------------------------Day 3 – Panning, topping and baking----------------------------------  

1.  Remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm to room temperature for about an hour. 

2.  Place the dough onto a well oiled rimmed baking pan of about 13” x 18”.  Stretch until the dough nearly fills the pan.  (If the dough becomes resistant to stretching, a rest will make further stretching easier).

3.  Spray the dough with cooking spray and cover with plastic.  Allow to proof for 1-2 hours or until doubled in height.

4.  Dimple the focaccia with oiled fingers (Dip your fingers in the herbed oil).  Top with sliced olives and sprinkle with more paprika.  Pour the herbed oil over the focaccia.  Dimple some more!

5.  Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C for 25 minutes rotating once at around 10-15 minutes of baking.  After 25 minutes of baking, add the cheese. Bake for further 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

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