Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Best Focaccia Bread Ever

This. was. the best focaccia ever.
So it was the best focaccia I've baked.
And it was the first focaccia I've ever baked.
Still, it has the potential to be the best focaccia in the universe.

Except it was a bit salty.  Okay, really salty!
But that was because I used the Alessi Coarse Sea Salt, which made all my dishes so salty.
Who says Mediterranean sea salt is less salty?  Next time, I'll stick with Diamond Kosher Salt.

Could it be that I used 1 tsp salt instead of the 1/2 teaspoon called for in the recipe?  Hmmm...

Again, the focaccia was so good.  And so easy.
So easy that I could bake it every day.  But that would mean gaining one pound in a day.  7 lbs in a week.  30 lbs in a month. Yikes!

It required no kneading.  My kind of bread.  I've heard of no knead bread before, but never paid any attention to it.  Until now.

So good that I'm creating a post for it.  So I can keep it for myself.  And for posterity.

See?  Doesn't it look gorgeous?

And I lifted this recipe from CI-2010Sep&Oct.  Cryptic eh?  Well that was intentional.

On to the recipe already!


1/2 cup (2-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (2-2/3 ounces) warm water (100-110F)
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast.

Combine flour, water and yeast in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (70F) overnight (8 - 24 hours).  Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temp 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe).


2-1/2 cups (12-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) warm water (100-110F)
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
Kosher salt (don't use Alessi Coarse Sea Salt!)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Stir flour, water and yeast into biga until uniform.  Cover with plastic wrap and let raise at room temp for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over dough, stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated.  

Cover with plastic wrap and let raise at room temp for 30 minutes. (#1)

Fold dough.  Lift edge and and fold toward middle.  Turn bowl.  Fold.  Turn bowl.  Fold.  All around, about 8 turns.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 30 minutes. (#2)
Repeat turning and folding.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 30 minutes. (#3)
Repeat turning and folding.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position.  Place baking stone on rack.  Heat overn to 500F at least 30 minutes before baking.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured counter.  Lightly dust top of dough with flour and divide in half.  Shape each piece of dough into 5-inch round by gently tucking under edges.

Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each.  
Sprinkle each pan with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  
Place round of dough in pan, top side down; slide dough around pan to coat bottom and sides, then flip over.
Repeat with second piece of dough.
Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.

Using finger tips, press dough out toward edges of pan.  (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying again.)  
Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 25 or 30 times, popping any large bubbles.  
Sprinkle rosemary evenly over top of dough.  
Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

Place pans on baking stone and reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees. 
Bake until tops are golden brown, 25 to 28 minutes, switching placement of pans halfway through baking.  
Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes.
Remove loaves from pan and return to wire rack. 
Brush tops with any oil remaining in pan.
Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

I baked the focaccia using the lazy steaming method.  I heated roasting pan with the baking stone, and after placing the cake pans onto the stone, I also threw in a few ice cubes into the roasting pan to create stream.  That supposed to do something good to the bread, but I forgot exactly what.

My son commented that the baked (burnt?) rosemary smelled like burnt glue.  Must the the sap from the fresh rosemary.  Next time, I will mix the rosemary with the olive oil before spreading it on so the rosemary won't burn as bad.

My dough was very wet and sticky.  But the focaccia turned out beautifully.  The wet dough created those big holes in the bread.

Note:  The hydration percent of the dough is 84% (the weight of water relative to the weight of flour).

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