Pot Luck Focaccia

by A.J. Coltrane

Another variation on a high hydration focaccia, using this one as a jumping off point.

The goal this time was to make a focaccia that could stand on its own at a potluck. As compared to the linked (non-assertive) bread, this one features more salt, more oil, and the addition of rosemary to the top.

All I had in the house was AP flour. I would have preferred Bread Flour for this one, but I wasn’t going to make a trip to the store for it.

The recipe:

Ingredient Measure Baker’s %
AP Flour 500 g
Water 500 g 100
Salt 12 g 2.5
EV Olive Oil 30 g 6
Instant Yeast 1.5 tsp

 

1.  Combine all ingredients in a mixer and combine on low speed for 10 minutes. Lightly oil a parchment lined sheet tray.

2.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, then pour it into the sheet tray, gently coaxing the dough towards the edges of the pan. Cover and let rest 2 hours. Chop rosemary.

3.  Preheat oven to 425F.

4.  When the oven is hot, drizzle a small amount of oil on the dough. Sprinkle chopped rosemary on top.

5.  Bake for 15 minutes, turn the tray 180 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes.

If it’s a two-hour dough I’m always suspicious of the ability of the finished product to be interesting on it’s own. That’s not enough time for good stuff to happen, chemically speaking. On this variation I turned to the “volume knobs” of oil and salt — the oil was increased from 4% to 6%, and the salt was increased from 2% (the “standard”), up to 2.5% of the weight of the flour. The small amount of additional salt helps the bread stand up to other big flavors.

140828 focaccia

Something I ran into with both of these high-hydration doughs was that the raw doughs couldn’t support the weight of a drizzle of oil. This may be because the house was 80F+ on both attempts. Each time the top of the dough was saturated with tiny delicate bubbles. Spreading the oil around on the surfaces was out of the question. I wound up drizzling a thin stream of oil, which looks like little canals or “breaks” on the finished focaccia.

A close up:

140828 focaccia close up

(Rushed 5 a.m. photography. Not terrible, considering.)

What I think I learned:

1.   100% hydration doughs might not be the best idea when the house is over 80 degrees. Something like 75-80% hydration would have been “safer” way to go.

2.   The dough was basically a batter. The finished bread likely would have benefited from a pan smaller than a sheet tray. As it was, the edges were pretty thin, which could have led to uneven baking.

3.   When I initially pulled the bread out of the oven it was fairly pasty looking. At the risk of drying out the bread, I popped it back in for 4 minutes — that’s what gave it a better color.

Fortunately all of that worked out, though I had my doubts.

I think it’s time to steer back towards “sane hydration” land for a while.

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