Phenomenal focaccia recipe


Francis Lam
August 18, 2010 4:20AM (UTC)

Recipe adapted from Zingerman's Bakehouse

Ingredients

Poolish

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (0.25 pounds -- 4 oz)
  • ½ cup water (0.25 pounds -- 4 oz)
  • 1/8 teaspoon active instant yeast

Dough

  • 1 cup water (0.50 pounds -- 8 oz)
  • 1¼ cups poolish (from above) (0.50 pounds -- 8 oz)
  • ½ teaspoon active instant yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (0.96 pounds -- 15 oz)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (0.09 pounds -- 1.5 oz) plus more, to brush
  • 1½ teaspoons salt (.02 pounds -- er, just with the teaspoons!)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Fresh rosemary, to taste
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, grated, to taste

Directions

Poolish

  1. Combine the flour, water and yeast in a medium mixing bowl and mix together until incorporated.
  2. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and allow the mix to ferment for 8 hours or overnight. If you see it get super-bubbly and puffy, put it in the fridge.

Dough

  1. In a large bowl, add the water, poolish, olive oil and yeast and combine thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
  2. Add half the flour and stir. The mixture will resemble thick, lumpy pancake batter.
  3. Add the salt and remaining flour, mixing until it looks like a gnarly mop head, the proverbial "shaggy mass." Turn the dough onto a clean, dry work surface, scraping all the flour and dough bits out.
  4. Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and somewhat taut. Check the gluten development with the windowpane test, and if it's looking kind of windowpane-y, you're good to go.
  5. Scrape all the leftover flour and dry bits out of the mixing bowl and spray or brush the bowl with oil, delicious, delicious, nonstick oil. Put your dough back into the mixing bowl and cover with plastic.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450° degrees with a baking stone on the bottom shelf, and let the dough ferment at room temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Uncover the dough and turn out onto the work surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces.
  8. Gently form the dough into a disc thusly: Pull up on a corner of the dough and hold it in the center of the mass. Then pull up on the edge of the dough a few inches away from your first corner, bringing it to the center, and pinch it to the bit you're already holding. Continue all the way around the dough until you have a little purse-shaped cutie. Smack it down lightly to flatten the dough into a disc shape. (Don't smash it -- just pat it into shape.) Flip the focaccia, pinched-seam side down onto a piece of cornmeal-dusted parchment and cover with plastic. Let rest for 45 to 50 minutes.
  9. If you have a peel, sprinkle it lightly with cornmeal and place the disc onto it. (If not, leave it on the parchment, but maybe on the back of a sheet pan or cookie tray to help you push it onto the baking stone.), With your fingertips, press the disc almost all the way through to make dimples all over the surface, then brush the top of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and Parmesan. (I like to sprinkle lightly, but it's your call.)
  10. Slide the focaccia onto the preheated baking stone and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack, brush again with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh rosemary. Cool completely before eating. It will be tempting to break into it, but really: wait. The rosemary infuses into the olive oil and then sinks into dimples, and the bread needs time to finish cooking and setting up so that it's not gummy. If you like it warm, feel free to reheat it after it's cooled down. 

Francis Lam

Francis Lam is Features Editor at Gilt Taste, provides color commentary for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography), and tweets at @francis_lam.

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