Sunday, October 12, 2008

The first step towards awesome Focaccia

the first step towards awesome Focaccia is to make almost awesome Focaccia, and then try to improve it. done!!

adapted from Paul Hollywood's 100 Great Breads:

Focaccia, makes one loaf.
2 cups flour
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 packages active dry yeast (each pkg is 15g)
1/2 cup water + some
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, drained of oil/brine but not rinsed
3 tbsp dried basil, or a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn in half

salt water - 1 tsp salt dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
oil for brushing

1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
small palm full of pine nuts (how much is a palm full? i dunno, do you like a lot of pine nuts, or a little?)

put flour, salt, half the oil, and 1/2 cup water into a bowl and mix well. be prepared to add another tbsp or two of water if the dough is wet enough to pick up all the flour. flour your hands, and knead the dough for 6-8 minutes. you can add more flour if it's too sticky, but you want it to stay as sticky as possible. put a few drops oil into the bowl, turn the dough to cover, and let rise at room temp for 2 hours.

grease a baking sheet, then mix the olives and basil into the dough. flatten the dough out into a round on the baking sheet, about 14" across. brush the dough with olive oil, and make little indentations all over it with your fingertip. let rise one hour.

when the hour is nearly up, sautee the sliced onion in some oil. when the onions are nearly done, turn the heat down to low and toss in some pine nuts so they get covered in a bit of oil. preheat oven to 450.

brush the top of the dough with the salt water, then with oil. put the onions and pine nuts on top of the dough, and brush again with oil. bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden around the edges.

OK, so the original recipe didn't call for any onions or pine nuts, but it sounded so good! how to make this bread one step closer to awesome focaccia? don't cook the onions so much on the stove. . . they got so dried out in the oven that they all burnt to a crisp. also, next time i will flatten my dough out more, and maybe blend the pine nuts right into the dough, because like the onions, they didn't stick to the top of the bread very well.

a note on Mr. Hollywood's cookbook: lots of beautiful pictures and inspriring recipes, but too many ingredients that my local grocery store has never heard of. maybe i'm not as much of a foodie as i thought.

the focaccia might not have been perfect, but it was better than the books:
Saturn's Children, by Charles Stross. Even more rediculous than the cover image. i'm really hoping this was satire, and that I just didn't get it.

Startide Rising, by David Brin. Not as good as i'd hoped. Superb over arching ideas, detailed execution, not so much. also, dolphin TMI.

currently reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. You know, the Yiddish Policeman's Union dude? I'm enjoying the snippets of yiddish in the story, reminds me of my Bubbie and Zayde

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