sábado, 10 de janeiro de 2009

fennel and tomato focaccia

If you think making bread is a time-consuming, labor intensive task, focaccia might be a revelation to you.

This Italian bread begins by being shaped into a large, flat round that is liberally brushed or drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Slits cut into the dough's surface may be stuffed with fresh rosemary before the bread is baked. It can be eaten as a snack, served as an accompaniment to soups, salads, or simply dipped into good, sweet, fruity olive oil.

But let's talk flour first, since the right choice makes a big different in texture. Always use unbleached flour. Bleaching uses chemical ingredients that robs the flour of nutrients, flavor and color, all for the questionable end of making white flour even whiter.

Different wheats contain different amounts of protein, and that protein gives the resulting baked goods different characteristics.

Flour can be called hard, soft or all-purpose. Hard flour, also called bread flour, has the most protein, and is the best type for making crusty, coarse-textured bread. You can make good bread with all-purpose flour, but if it is available, use bread flour.

Soft flour has the lowest percentage of protein, and makes delicate cakes with a fine crumb.

All-purpose is the standard to make cakes, pancakes, waffles, since the amount of protein is moderate.

fennel and tomato focaccia:

2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced and fronds chopped
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes, or any other coarse salt
3 1/2 cups white bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried yeast
3 Tbp olive oil

For the dough, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and add the yeast. Stir to combine and make a well in the center.

Add 1 1/4 cups warm water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to combine, then use your hands to bring the mixture together (if the mixture is sticking to your hands add a little flour, but avoid using it. The more flour the chewier the bread will be). Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 10 minutes (or use your standing mixer set with the hook attachment) until smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and place it in a warm area for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the ball of dough on an oiled baking sheet. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, gently roll from the center upwards in one motion, not pressing the air bubbles too firmly. Roll the opposite side making an oval or rectangular shape about 12 inches long and 8 inches at its widest part. Cover it and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Use the tips of your fingers to press dimples over the surface of the dough. Lay the fennel and tomato slices on top and scatter with the fronds. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with salt flakes. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. If the top does not get golden, turn the broiler on and toast for 2 minutes or so. Serves 6-8.

2 comentários:

  1. Oh, yum... This looks exquisite! Even better than Michael's description. I have yet to try making bread - shameful, I know. There's something about that living process, the bubbling and rising and growing, that seems so intimidating to me! But I bought some yeast and I think I'm ready to give it a shot - cross your fingers for me!

  2. May I just say, "hells yes!" to this focaccia, but I have to make it gluten-free. A nice task for this weekend.