A flat bread made from a very wet dough and flavored with herb olive oil.
Submitted to Yeastspotting
I had never had focaccia until I bought my first bread book about 10 years ago. I had just gotten interested in making breads and Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice was the perfect book for me (it is still the main book I use). Not having the stand mixer that I have now focaccia was the perfect bread to try. This bread requires little to no kneading it just requires room, it does make a bit of a mess though. The first time I made it I fell in love. It has so many possibilities. I mainly eat it with cured meats, good cheese and roasted red peppers, but you can also make it like a pizza by adding all kinds of things on top. It's great on its own and makes wonderful sandwiches.
This is Peter Reinhart's recipe for Poolish Focaccia (I just use a sourdough poolish instead of comercial yeast)
4oz sourdough starter (100% hydration)
8oz bread flour
Poolish (20 oz)
12 oz bread flour
.5 oz salt
3 oz olive oil
6 oz water
1/2 tsp yeast, optional
*1/2 cup herb oil --1/2 cup olive oil gently heated with 1-2 Tbsp of favorite dry herb mix (I use garlic, oregano and basil)
The night before you plan to make the focaccia, mix together the poolish. Add the sourdough, flour and water to a medium sized bowl and stir until all the flour is hydrated and the ingredients are well mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature over night.
The next day, add the poolish (which should be bubbly), and the rest of the ingredients (*except the herb oil) to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until a wet sticky ball is formed. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium low speed for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic but still very wet (it should clear the sides of the bowl but still stick to the bottom). All of this can be done with a metal spoon, dipped frequently in water so the dough doesn't stick, just change the direction you stir a few times to help with gluten development.
Make a bed of flour about 6-8 inches square on the work surface (this is where it gets messy, flour gets all over but more is better than less because you don't want the dough to stick to the work surface). Using a nonstick spatula or bowl scraper, transfer the dough onto the bed of flour. Sprinkle generously with flour and with floured hands pat the dough into a rectangle. Allow dough to rest for 5 minutes.
Coat your hands with flour again and begin to stretch the dough from both ends until it is twice its size. Then fold the ends over each other (like a letter) to return the dough to its rectangular shape. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and dust with flour and then cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Stretch and fold the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes two more times. and after the final stretch and fold let the dough ferment for 1 hour, if using the optional yeast or 3 hours if making pure sourdough. The dough should swell but not necessarily double in size.
Prepare a 17 by 12 inch baking sheet (I use two small sheet pans) by lining it with parchment paper. Spread about half of the *herb oil over the parchment then transfer the dough into the pan. Spread some of the oil over the top of the dough and using your finger tips dimple the dough to spread it out to almost fill the pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and proof for 2 hours (if using commercial yeast or not). 15 minutes before baking drizzle on any remaining herb oil and dimple the dough again to about 1/2 inch thick. The dough should now fill the pan. Let rest for about 15 minutes and then bake in a oven preheated to 500F.
Immediately lower the temperature to 450F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for 5-10 minutes more until it turns I nice golden brown.
Remove from oven and slide the focaccia onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy.