Thursday, 11 August 2011

Focaccia and Focaccia con Formaggio

Bread is wonderful. Bread plus salt? Even better. And wash that salted bread down with wine.. simply heaven.

For these reasons, focaccia is one of my favourite breads. Sort of a precursor to pizza, but with the focus on the bread. As it should be.

Here are two fabulous focaccias, one is a more traditional flat-style with herbs and just enough loft to make a sandwich out of if you wish. The other is a stuffed focaccia, sort of a bread pillow with a savoury surprise inside. What can be better than that?

adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers
A delicious and fairly easy bread, made with Ciabatta dough. 
Makes 2

Day one
Day two
  • Mix up the rest of the dough and let rest 1½ hours. 
  • Oil 2 large cake pans with extra virgin olive oil. I used 9x13, 10" rounds would also be good. 
  • Divide dough into 2 and shape into rounds. Let rest 10 minutes, covered. 
  • Roll or stretch out each piece to the general size of the pan. Sprinkle with some more extra virgin olive oil and use your fingers to make dimples and to stretch the dough to meet the edges of the pans. 
  • Cover and let rise 1½ hours. 
  • Preheat oven to 450°F.
  • Use your fingers to make dimples again and garnish with fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, sliced Kalamata olives, sliced baby tomatoes, coarse ground pepper and Maldon sea salt. 
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned on top. 
  • Cool on racks. 
  • Eat with lusty abandon, wash down with wine. Tell people you only made one loaf. 

Focaccia con Formaggio
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread
for the Mellow Bakers
Makes 1

Day one
  • Mix up the pâté fermentée for French baguettes. (Yes, I said French, don't worry about it)
Day two
  • Mix up the rest of the dough for the baguettes and let rise one hour. 
  • Preheat oven, with baking stone on the middle rack, to 475°F
  • Punch dough down and divide into two equal pieces. 
  • Roll out the first piece into a rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Place on a sheet of parchment.
  • Spread a cup of ricotta cheese over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sprinkle 1 Tbsp toasted fennel seeds over the cheese.
  • Add coarse salt and coarse black pepper to taste. 
  • Top with ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. 
  • Roll the other piece of dough to the same dimensions and top the first piece. 
  • Seal the edges and pierce the top dough so that steam can escape. 
  • Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. 
  • Transfer the dough carefully to the stone, on the parchment, and bake 10 minutes. 
  • Turn bread around and bake until golden, about another 5-10 minutes.
  • Cool slightly on a rack, serve warm.
Some of my fellow Mellows opted to leave out the fennel seeds. I think this is a mistake as they really do add great flavour and texture. If you really can't abide fennel seeds, replace them with something strongly flavoured like fresh rosemary.

This bread has been YeastSpotted!