|America's Test Kitchen: Italian Rosemary Focaccia Bread|
|Putting together the Focaccia Biga|
After making several breads, there’s a point once a bread is done and you let it cool that you cut into it. I call this the Moment of Truth because it’s hard to gauge how the bread will turn out. Yes, you do have a thermometer to make sure that the center of the bread hits 200-210 degrees Fahrenheit, but there’s always going to be that sense of suspense and uncertainty right before you cut into it when you see whether Santa left you a nice little present or a lump of coal. The instant read thermometer did register the magic number of 210 degrees exactly when I took it out of the oven and the crust was crisp and wasn’t hard. Allow me to say that it came out perfectly: the center was cooked all the way through and the crumb structure was just immaculate. I find that focaccia bread gives you a nice looking crumb with plenty of air bubbles, a common characteristic of artisan breads. Not only that but when I took my first bite, I just felt like I was in heaven - yes it was THAT good. I actually made this focaccia bread to complement the eggplant parmesan I made as well for a nice Sunday Italian dinner, but in actuality this focaccia would go well with any Italian dish: fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti with meatballs, tortellini, cheese ravioli, lasagna, etc.
|Focaccia Biga the morning after being made: the holes indicate the yeast is working by eating the sugars and releasing air bubbles for flavor.|
The difference between this focaccia bread and other focaccia breads is that the crust is crisp and gives a good crunch. Other focaccia breads have a soft crust with almost a fluffy, sponge-like texture. I have nothing against that type of focaccia bread which is the type that I would most likely encounter. I personally don't know why some focaccias come out that way and why others come out crunchy, but I do like both kinds. My theory is the high hydration level of the dough.
|Italian Focaccia Bread sprinkled with coarse sea salt and garlic|
I wouldn't change much in this recipe. The bread came out how I expected with good flavor and texture. I just added some coarse sea salt and some garlic as a topping [Update 9-6-13: I put 2 heaping teaspoons of fresh, minced garlic in the dough because the garlic tended to burn when sprinkled on top. What also works is to heat the olive oil with a few cloves of garlic in a sauce pan giving you garlic infused olive oil and then mincing the garlic and incorporating it into the dough]. Rosemary has that distinct piney and earthy flavor, and I would lessen the amount of rosemary because I didn't want the rosemary flavor to be too overwhelming.
|The Crumb Structure of my Focaccia Bread|
In terms of the process of making the focaccia bread, instead of going through the trouble of putting the dough on a floured surface, having to handle such a wet and sticky dough, and splitting the dough into 2 round pans, I would actually just use 1 pan for the entire dough. The reason for this is because it could be very difficult when doing step 4 of the recipe below. When you watch the accompanying video, your dough will NOT turn out the way that America's Test Kitchen chef Becky Hays. Your dough will have the consistency like that of pancake batter.
|Focaccia Dough if you were to use one rimmed baking sheet instead of 2 round pans.|
Instead what you should do is just oil up a rectangular rimmed baking sheet and just pour out the batter straight from the mixing bowl using an oiled spatula. Because I found it difficult handling the wet dough (putting it onto a floured surface, halving it, and putting each half into a separate pan), this allows you to bypass that altogether. The only time you would have to handle the dough is when the dough is already on your baking sheet and once the top of the dough is well oiled (and your fingers are oiled too), it'll be easy to spread the dough out to fill out more of your rectangular baking sheet. Most focaccia breads I've seen are cooked on rectangular baking sheets.
|Common in Italy to make 1 large Focaccia instead of 2 smaller ones|
Rosemary Focaccia RecipeAmerica's Test Kitchen - season 11 episode 22, Simply Italian
Makes two 9-inch round loaves
IngredientsIf you don’t have a baking stone, bake the bread on an overturned, preheated rimmed baking sheet set on the upper-middle oven rack. The bread can be kept for up to 2 days well wrapped at room temperature or frozen for 2 months wrapped in foil and placed in a zipper-lock bag.
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
1/3 cup (2 2/3 oz) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) warm water (100-110 degrees F)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary [this is way too much so I used about 1 tsp for both loaves]
Instructions1. FOR THE BIGA: Combine flour, water, and yeast in large bowl and stir with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (about 70 degrees) overnight (at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.) Use immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days (allow to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before proceeding with recipe.)
2. FOR THE DOUGH: Stir flour, water, and yeast into biga with wooden spoon until uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 15 minutes.
3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons salt over dough; stir into dough until thoroughly incorporated, about 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes. Spray rubber spatula or bowl scraper with nonstick cooking spray; fold partially risen dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 turns). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising 2 more times, for total of three 30-minute rises. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.
4. Gently transfer dough to 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 [I used 1 tbsp to coat the pan and I brushed the other tbsp on top] olive oil each. Sprinkle each pan with ½ teaspoon kosher salt [I didn't do this but instead sprinkled a pinch of coarse sea salt on top]. 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.
5. Using fingertips, 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 to 30 times, popping any large bubbles. Sprinkle rosemary evenly over top of dough. Let dough rest until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.
6. 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.
|Video: Chef Becky Hays Making Rosemary Focaccia Bread on America's Test Kitchen|