Jan 20, 2011

{focaccia bread}

i am beyond thrilled that two of my bread-making attempts have not fallen flat. literally. i always end up with rock hard bread. they just never rise for me. but i think i figured out a few things i was doing wrong:

1.) when they say 'warm' water. thats actually a really important thing. but warm. not hot. if your water is too hot it kills the yeast. & if its not warm enough your yeast wont activate. whoops. everyone else already knew that, huh? if you have a thermometer, about 110 degrees or warm to touch is good.

2.) whole wheat just sometimes needs longer to rise. like longer than the whole 'one hour or until doubled'. sometimes it takes two. or more.

3.) kneading your dough for the written amount of time is actually important. it helps the gluten develop, which helps your bread bind together & creates little air pockets in your dough which results in fluffier, tastier bread.

aaand all of this could easily be avoided if you actually followed directions. unlike me.
all of that said. this is actually a really easy bread to make {hallelujah}
i also decided to use all fluffy white flour this time. in honor of following directions.

you will need:
4-4 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of warm water {105-115 degees}
1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
& then
1 cup of warm water
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of olive oil
more coarse salt for sprinkling

the process starts the night before when you mix together 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of warm water & yeast. mix until smooth & cover overnight. its going to make a sponge like this below.

easy peasy so far. right?

if you have a kitchen aid. mix your sponge in that so that you can then easily add your 1 more cup of warm water & salt. mix. then gradually add flour. you want just enough so that your dough begins to pull away from the sides of your mixing bowl. knead 8-10 minutes.

place your dough onto a lightly oiled bowl. turn over once so your whole ball of dough is covered.
let rise 'about an hour' or until doubled. which for me actually was about an hour.
miracle of miracles.

now the kind of weird part. 
take a baking sheet. flour it & turn your dough directly onto it. 
now…take a large bowl & turn it upside down so it covers the dough & let rest for 30 minutes.

if you have a baking stone. use it at this point & preheat in your oven.
i do not. so after about 15 minutes i preheat our {empty} oven to 475.

remove bowl after 30 mintues and very gently roll your dough out until it has a diameter of about 11". don't overwork it, here. you don't want all of that rising you did to deflate now, do you?

so now look back up at the picture. see the pretty dots all over the bread?
now you're going to do that. so poke at your bread. just for fun. 
making about 1/2 inch dents every 2 or so inches.
then brush lightly with olive oil, top with sea salt & bake for 15-20 minutes. 
you'll know when your bread is done when you tap on it & it makes a nice hollow sound :)

ahhhh its so delicious!!!!

we make excuses to eat it with EVERYTHING now. soups. anything remotely italian. mexican? anything.

actually don't pair this with mexican food. but you get what i mean.

let me know if you try this & how it turns out for you, please!

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