There is a new love in my life. And it’s name is Sundried Tomato Focaccia.
I was looking forward to this week’s challenge. I love focaccia and I have never made it before. So I started yesterday with the dough. I mixed KAF bread flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and water:
I decided to knead in the KitchenAid, to try and keep from adding too much flour. The book says the dough is supposed to clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom, but I saw this:
I added more flour at this point, and kept kneading. I don’t think my dough ever really “cleared the sides of the bowl,” but I was also afraid of adding too much water and not getting nice open holes.
I plopped it out of the bowl after seven minutes was up, and put it onto a little bed of flour.
I patted it into a rectangle, as instructed:
And proceeded with the stretching and folding maneuvers previously made famous by the Ciabatta recipe.
I also started packing yesterday to move, and so I went and packed in between stretching and folding. You are supposed to stretch and fold three times, a half an hour apart, and then let the dough rise for an hour. By the end, I was losing track of how many times I had stretched and folded, and where exactly I was in the recipe. I may have stretched and folded an extra time in there.
I also noticed that the dough got progressively less stretchy. The first time it was easy to pull it out, but by the last time, it didn’t want to go very far. It did rise a lot, though.
Also while it was rising, I made the herb oil. The herb oil recipe given makes two cups, but I only wanted to make enough for the recipe, so I only made a half a cup. This was a good idea not just because I didn’t want extra herb oil, but also because by the time I poured out the quarter cup of olive oil on the sheet pan, I think I only had a few drops of olive oil remaining.
The herb oil was very easy to make. I put my half cup of olive oil in a pan over low heat, and it quickly got up to 100 degrees. Then I took it off the heat and added the seasonings. I didn’t have any fresh herbs, so I just used a teaspoon of italian herb blend, a teaspoon each of minced garlic and onion (left over from topping the bagels a few weeks ago), a teaspoon of kosher salt, and few twists of black pepper. I let it steep for about an hour, until the dough was ready.
I managed to transfer the dough to my parchment- and oil-covered sheet pan, although I think it deflated a little in the move.
I added half of my herb oil and dimpled the dough.
Then I covered the dough in plastic and put it in the refrigerator. Remember when I had such a hard time finding space in the refrigerator for the bagel tray? Yup, it wasn’t any easier this time.
This morning, I pulled out the tray.
The dough and the herb oil were very cold, so I let them warm up for about a half hour before adding more oil and dimpling again. I also had a pre-proof topping I wanted to use: a small jar of sundried tomatoes. Since this recipe seemed to be all about adding as much oil as possible, I just threw the sundried tomato oil on top the focaccia as well.
It took my dough much less than three hours to rise enough. After two, I started preheating the oven, and I think I might have waited too long.
I put the pan in the oven for ten minutes, and then went to turn the pan. While I was turning it, some of the oil in the pan must have spilled out, because suddenly my kitchen was filled with black smoke, and my smoke detector was going off. I ran to take out the batteries and open the windows.
I took the pan out after another five minutes. I think it could have baked even longer, but I was having a hard time staying in the kitchen with the smoky air. I managed to pull the focaccia onto a rack to cool, and retreated.
By the time the smoke had cleared, my focaccia was cool and ready to slice into.
This bread is seriously delicious. You can see from the photos how the top edge and the bottom edge are soaked in olive oil. I didn’t need to add anything extra to the bread. The bottom was crispy and the interior was soft and light. I didn’t get very large holes, so I wonder if I added too much flour in the kneading stage. The herb oil gave a delicious flavor to the bread, and the sundried tomatoes gave nice little bursts of sweetness.
I cut mine into fairly large pieces, making 16 slices, and I could imagine eating it by itself as a meal. In fact, I’m not sure I want to eat anything else in the near future. I usually freeze at least half of these recipes, but I haven’t frozen these yet. I think we might actually eat them all. I did put them on paper towels, to try and soak up some of the extra olive oil, though. I really don’t want to know how much is in each slice.
These get 5 stars; up with the bagels as one of my favorite recipes so far.