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Thursday, October 1, 2009

BBA Challenge #13 - Focaccia

I find it totally hilarious that my friend Lisa (who blogs at Stop and Smell the Chocolates) guest posted for me one time this summer and what did she post about? Focaccia. A bread machine recipe, in fact. You should totally check it out. (And check out her blog while you’re at it.)

I really had high hopes for this focaccia recipe.

Wait. Let me start again.

This focaccia recipe is a good one. It’s relatively simple and it came with an herb oil recipe that knocked our socks off. In fact, I’ve posted my version here.

However, I did encounter problems. Well, not really problems and not necessarily with the bread itself, but challenges. With other things.

I topped a pizza sized portion with herb oil, sun-dried tomatoes and gorgonzola cheese. I don’t have a lot of photographic evidence, but let’s see if you can figure out the problem here

Before baking:

After baking:

So, yeah. My toppings didn’t go so well, huh?

Now I was able to remove them and the bread itself was wonderful. Mike liked it better even than the Ciabatta. It was fluffy and flavorful.

In the book, Mr. Reinhart tells us that portions of the dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. So, I decided that I would try freezing some and include my results on this post. (Which is part of why this post is so long in coming.)

My results were kind of weird actually.

Lacking specific instructions on what to do, I removed the dough from the freezer and let it mostly thaw in the refrigerator. I removed it from the fridge to let it continue thawing because I thought I would bake it that day. As it turned out, we went out for dinner so I put it back in the fridge.

I took it back out of the fridge the next day and followed the instructions from step 2 on page 166. This focaccia sat out waiting to proof from about 10:30 am until about 3:30 pm. It never proofed.

Can you see how this is not as puffy as the first batch above?

I don’t know if the in and out action with the fridge caused it to wig out and decide not to proof or what. So I finally went ahead and topped it with some Asiago cheese and Salami and baked it just to see what would happen.

The flavor was actually good and it wasn’t hard as a brick like you might think. But it was definitely denser than and not as fluffy as the first (un-frozen) batch.

I’ll bake the other two batches that I still have in my freezer at some point, but I much prefer the un-frozen version.

Overall Impressions:

I have some work to do to figure out how to top the focaccia in creative and interesting ways while dealing with the high baking temperature and not burning the toppings.

Will I make it again? Sure. I would definitely make this focaccia again. But I also might try Lisa’s bread machine recipe.


Paula - bell'alimento said...

Ciao Donna! I loved this recipe for Focaccia! I've got to get around to making it again! I've only tried the herbed oil version. You might try putting the additional toppings on towards the end of the cooking time, might help :)I've taken a little bread hiatus & need to get back to it. I do miss the fresh bread! Baci!

Kelly said...

Bummer about the toppings. :( It looked so good, so glad to hear it was salvageable. Also good to know about using frozen dough. I have problems with freezing already cooked bread. I seem to get freezer burn really easily.

Good luck with your next attempt. This is definitely one I want to go back and make again.

Happy baking!

Anonymous said...

Okay here's my 2 cents on the frozen dough thing. I often freeze my pizza dough, as unless we're entertaining a crowd, we don't use enough for 3 large pizzas at once. I can't vouch for how it works when you thaw in the fridge over a slow period of time because usually when it occurs to us that we want pizza (or something else requiring the dough), we want it in the next hour, not tomorrow. So what I generally do is place the dough in an airtight freezer bag and submerse it in hot water in the sink for about 30 minutes. This usually requires that I use a plate or something to weight the dough down (it floats). I find that the warm water not only thaws the dough, but helps it to proof. It still doesn't get as puffy as fresh dough, but I think it might help you with your problem.

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

@potsandplots (Kait)

Thank you for that tip. I will definitely try that since I have two more balls of dough in the freezer.

For pizza, I make my shells and pre-bake them then freeae those. They thaw super quickly like that.


Tiffany said...

I'm so totally gonna try this. Yummy. Oh wait. I ma back on Weight Watchers. Might be a couple months. But I am still going to try it! I love that you tested it for us and all. Saves me some time:)

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Your toppings looked so good though!! Yum! I had fun posting that one for you and I need to try my less homemade version again - LOL! You did a great job and I would eat your focaccia bread any dday! :)

cindy said...

Too bad about the burned sundried tomatoes! Interesting commentary about the frozen dough. PR divides toppings in the book into pre-proofing toppings, post proofing toppings and during baking toppings. I would guess sun dried tomatoes should be put on part way through baking.