Focaccia

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Typing away at blog posts is left for after I’ve cooked (and eaten) or tested recipes.  To tell the entire story of the undertaking for that one post and using the points jotted in my journal, I have a clear-ish idea of the message I hope to convey.  That’s when I stick to the script and cook as planned per the points scribbled in my notes.  But with baking bread, I have time to sit at my kitchen table and have the fresh ideas appear on my laptop’s screen to begin this post as the dough does its thing.

Peeking through Peter Reinhart’s – Artisan Bread Every Day cookbook from time to time, I promise to make a world of recipes from its pages.  I’ve had it for some time now and it’s a good introduction book that give clear, lengthy details about different breads-sweet and savory, measurements and how to treat and handle dough without going too far into the science of yeast and gluten.  The first time I made Focaccia; it was an oily, tough disaster of a flat bread.  I read the recipe and had the ingredients to make a rosemary variation.  But I lacked the patience and my ratios were off LoL.  Today, oh best believe I’m hanging on to every word written on these pages to make the perfect Focaccia.  With my own alterations 🙂  

Visit Epicurious.com for Peter’s entire Pain A L’Ancienne  Focaccia recipe, the way it appears in his book: Artisan Breads Every Day

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This is how the dough looks after the first mix, it has to rest for 5 minutes before kneading again so the flour can be hydrated.

Day 1
I followed Peter’s Pain a l’Ancienne Focaccia recipe for basic instructions.  Though it is not a ‘no-knead’ recipe where you mix all the dry and wet ingredients together then allow it a day or two to become oven ready on its own.  This dough, similar to pizza dough take little effort.  No heavy kneading required but still time must be given for the dough to rise.  With 2 ¼ cups Unbleached Flour, 1 ¼ tsp Salt, ¾ tsp instant Yeast, 2 cups chilled Water and 1 Tbsp. of Coconut Oil, I followed the ‘do-ahead’ steps of the recipe, mixing by standing mixer and hand to fold the dough three times.  Allowing it to rest for 10 minutes between each folding  and before placing the refrigerator till the next day to make the bread.

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I folded the dough right in the bowl for 1 minute and repeated this step 3 times every 10 minutes
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With every folding, the dough became smoother
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This is how the dough looked at the last folding, right before I covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight

Baking Day
I took the dough out of the refrigerator 4 hours or so before baking to allow it to fully rise.  Peter’s book gives instructions to speed-up this process but I was in no rush and wanted to see how well the cold-fermented dough would rise being in the fridge overnight.

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This is the how the dough looked an hour after I took it out the refrigerator
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Four hours after and the dough more than tripled in size

As mentioned on many a blog post before this one, nine times out of ten I have ripe Sweet Plantains stocked in my fridge.  Depending on what I’m making, I can flex to use the ingredients I already have.  Instead of the usual Olive oil and herb topping, I used 1 large, boiled Sweet Plantain, tossed in 1 Tbsp. of fresh Thyme, 1/2 tsp of Salt, 1/4 tsp of Black Pepper and enough Coconut oil to coat them all.  I topped the dough with the mixture once the dough was dimpled and laid on a oiled sheet pan.  In a preheated oven, the bread baked for 20 minutes on 400 degrees.

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Notes:
– I cut the recipe in half, but used the 2 cups of water and the 1 Tbsp of oil to ensure the dough was sticky and tacky
– Next time I make this bread, I would add 2 tsp of Salt to the dough
– This is a great bread for sandwiches and to eat with heavy stews
– Yes, Focaccia is usually made with Olive Oil.  But Sweet Plantains go so well with the fragrant Coconut Oil though!
– The Sweet Plantain’s skins were black before I boiled the, a clear indication of how ripe / sweet the plantains are
– How to boil plantains:  Rinse first. Leaving the skins on, cut both ends of the plantains then slice in half.  In a medium sauce pot, add the plantains and enough cold water to cover them.  Cook covered and bring to a rolling boil until the skins split and the plantains tender yellow flesh is exposed.  Allow to cool before slicing.

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