Focaccia (Using a Poolish)

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I used to just love that Tyler Florence focaccia recipe – it was easy and fast. But the last time I made it, I realized it was just…..white bread. Focaccia is chewy, and pillowy, and crisp from the olive oil, with big air holes.

I started to wonder if that poolish thing that works for baquettes would work for focaccia, and the interwebs said yes!!
focaccia1How the poolish looks the next morning.

Our Google overlords took me back to the absolute number one bread blog in the world (and one I thought had been taken down), Artisan Bread Baking. This recipe is a mix of that, and what I remember from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe from long ago.

I wanted to give some to the neighbors, and remembered the CI one used cake pans – so there we go.
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This turned out fairly well. Light. Beautiful olive oil crust. The only thing I’d do differently next time is split the dough between four pans – in three, it was just a smidge too thick for our tastes.
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I hope you try this – this is a very kid-friendly recipe. You get to smoosh the dough out in the pan using your hands, place toppings on it, and poke it with your fingers before baking. Tactile play that is deliciously edible! Good times!!
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Make this next weekend. For reals – you’re home on a Saturday morning anyway, right? Give it a try.

Focaccia

The night before, make the poolish and some rosemary water:
9oz water
9oz AP flour
2 tsp yeast
Stir it up (it will be a thick sticky batter). Cover it with wax paper or saran and leave it on the counter overnight.
Boil 6 oz water. Put it in a heat-safe cup or bowl, drop in a 3″ sprig or rosemary or a tablespoon of dried, cover it with saran and leave it on the counter next to the poolish overnight.

The next morning, in your KitchenAide bowl or a big mixing bowl, add:
14 oz AP or bread flour
6 oz rosemary water
6 oz extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp dried Italian Herb mix
and the poolish.
Mix it up (with a dough hook or a wooden spoon) til it comes together, cover and let it rest 20 minutes.
Add the salt, knead it for six minutes. This dough is sticky. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
*Gently* fold the dough(Good Dave Johnson vid after the jump). Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Again, *gently* fold the dough. Cover and rest 30 minutes.
Finally, *gently* fold the dough. Cover and rest 20 minutes.

Line a sheet pan (or 3-4 8″ round cake pans) with parchment, generously grease the bottom and sides with olive oil. (For the smaller pans, cut the dough into thirds or fourths with your bench scraper.) Put the dough in the pan, and *gently* push it out to the edges of the pan using your fingers. Place your toppings (onion, olive, tomato – anything thick and moist – the light herby-type stuff comes later). Drizzle with olive oil. Loosely top with waxed paper and a tea towel and let it rise for at least an hour.

Heat the oven to 500*. If you have a baking stone, get that mofo in there. While it is pre-heating, poke the risen dough with your finger to make those focaccia indentations. Drizzle with more olive oil, and sprinkle with the herbs of your choice. (I like fresh rosemary.) Let this sit for 15 minutes, then pop in the hot oven. Reduce the temp to 450* and bake about 25 minutes or so until golden. Interior temp s/b at least 200*. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with some flaked kosher salt and coarse black pepper.

Cool, and eat. This makes amazing sammiches with some pesto. If you don’t eat it the same day, warm it a little in the oven to bring the crust back before serving.

Ginger Raisin Spice Bread

So I want to call this pumpkin ginger raisin spice bread, but just can’t. I’m still trying to use up the 8 cups of cooked pumpkin I batch froze back in September with that ill-fated grocery store pumpkin buy. I just cannot bring myself to just throw it out. It is not very orange and does not taste very pumpkin-like. 

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I learned my lesson, and have four sugar pumpkins from Willcox waiting to be cooked and bagged. But I know myself, if I cook those now that poor grocery pumpkin will have died for naught, collecting freezer burn in his zippy back way in the back. But I digress.  I cannot make pie with this shit, so I decided on a pumpkin bread. Only with lots of flavor additions like candied ginger, raisins and spices.  

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When I buy the candied ginger, I actually have to hide it from Himself. It’s like crack. Or maybe cryptonite, that and australian black licorice.  Ok! On to the bread – this is another of those one-bowl wonders, and is really quick. 

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See what I’m saying? Hell, the piece of candied ginger looks more orange than this bread. Stupid pumpkin.

 

I hope you try this, and use good pumpkin! This would be equally tasty with an equivalent amount of grated fresh zucchini in place of the pumpkin. 

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I love this glaze, too. It’s the usual orange zest/juice with icing sugar and the loverly addition of some more of that pumpkin pie spice. This is a scrumptious fall treat – I hope you try it!
Ingredients
For the batter
2 c sugar
2 c pumpkin puree
2/3 c veg oil
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 c AP flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
½ c raisins
¼ c minced candied ginger
for the topping
zest & juice of half an orange
2 Tbsp water
1.5-2 c. powdered sugar
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ c. minced candied ginger to garnish

Instructions
Spray the bottom of each loaf pan and line it with parchment. Preheat oven to 350*.
Throw everything but the ginger/raisins In the mixer bowl with the paddle, give it a whirl on medium until it’s all mixed. Add the ginger/raisins and give a quick spin to mix them in.
Divide the batter between the pans.
Bake 50-60m. until a tester comes out clean. Cool to just warm, then remove from the pans.
While they are cooling, mix together the glaze. It should be the consistency of thin pancake batter. When they are just warm to your palm, pour half the glaze of the tops of the loaves and use a pastry brush to spread it all over, including the sides. Next, drizzle the remaining glaze and sprinkle the tops with the garnish candied ginger.
Cool completely before slicing.
By Karen Maginnis
Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Best of Baking (MacMillan, 1997)
serves 16
calories 364
fat 11g
cholesterol 47mg
sodium 23mg
carbs 64g
-fiber 2g
-sugars 42g
protein 5g

Asiago Thyme Bread with Garlic Confit

Thought I’d give that four hour baguette recipe another try. Then Karen happened.

 

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I decided to take a break from the poolish recipe this week. And this morning when I opened the fridge, I saw this garlic confit I’d made to go with a roasted eggplant salad. Mmmmm…..that would be really good in a loaf of brea….wait! That’s it. And some herbs (with an H, people!). Thyme! Yes! Then shit got totally out of control with some shredded asiago cheese.  

The cheese baking smell was a bit strong for our typically dairy-free household. But they sho are purdee. 

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I’m thinking this would be scrumptious on a cheese and salami board, with some spicy cherry tomato jam. But, honestly, it’s meatballs tonight, so…… yeah. 

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Because of the added olive oil, this has a softer crust than the original baguette recipe – it’s almost like a focaccia-baguette baby.  Very tasty, though.  And man, there is just NOTHING like fresh bread.  Alright – I’m off to take a loaf to the neighbors. 

Ficelle4CmedBon apétit.

 
Ingredients
3.5 c AP flour
1.5 tsp yeast
1.5 c. warm water
3 tsp. kosher flake salt.
3/4 c. grated asiago
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
4-6 cloves of garlic cloves confit**, coarsely chopped and
¼ c. of the olive oil from the confit
Instructions
Mix in flour, yeast, water in the KitchenAide with dough hook. Cover with saran and leave for ½ hr.
Sprinkle with 3 tsp. kosher flake salt.
Knead in KitchenAide for four minutes.
Sprinkle with ¼ c grated asiago, thyme leaves, garlic cloves and ¼ c. of the olive oil from the confit
Knead one more minute.
Cover with saran, proof 45 m.
Punch down, fold. Proof 1 hr.
Shape in to 3 ficelles, put in real or parchment couche, cover and proof 1hr.
Last 15m of the hour, preheat the oven to 475*.
One top shelf, put shallow baking dish with about ½” water.
Uncover the loaves, spritz with a little water then sprinkle with the remaining ½ c. shredded asiago, slice the tops baguette-style and bake for 20 m.
Turn off oven, leave in 5m before removing.
Notes
**What’s garlic confit? Try this: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/garlic-confit
By Karen Maginnis
Adapted from Dan Leader’s 4-Hour Baguette in Saveur

yields 3 loaves
calories 814
fat 27g
cholesterol 22mg
sodium 2750mg
carbs 115g
-fiber 5g
-sugars 1g
protein 26g

Poolish what? Bread. Again.

Now, remember I warned you I was obsessed with finding a good recipe.  I have. This blog is amazing.

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 It’s a pain to read through the first time, but the recipe is actually pretty easy.  I am discovering that the secret to the kind of bread I like is something called a “pre-ferment”, and I’ve been playing with the poolish kind. 

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If you have a kitchen aide, this is really easy.  You just need to be home on a Saturday til about midday.  

You just read the recipe, right? Now, of course I cheat. Because Karen.  I make the poolish in the bowl of the Kitchen Aide Friday afternoon when I get home from work, and cover it with wax paper and a bread towel.  When I wake up Saturday, I pop it on the mixer with the bread hook and follow the steps.  Except, when she says to pull and fold the dough, I give it a spin for thirty seconds in the bowl, and just toss the bread towel over the mixer between times.  Why? Because it’s much neater, and I don’t have to either a) leave my counter crusted in flour for four hours, or b) clean the damn thing off every 45 minutes for four hours. 

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This recipe makes a nice loaf that has a firm, moist inside and nice crust. I throw the bread towel over the loaves as soon as they come out of the oven so the crust isn’t too too hard.  Give John Frum’s blog a read – he has an amazing amount of knowledge. 

If you try it out, share your experience!

 

So about that Four Hour Baguette….

I’ve been seeing this puppy hopping about on Pinterest. Four hour baguette! The pictures looked so credible – surely it must be true! So easy! So fast!

How can you resist bread, hot from the oven?
How can you resist bread, hot from the oven?

 

 

This was some delicious white bread. But, francophile with a respectable amount of Parisian experience that I am, I simply cannot call this a baguette.  A baguette is more than a shape – it’s a specific weight, and crust, and texture.  And you can’t achieve those things in four hours, which I knew on the inside when I decided to try the recipe.  But hope springing eternal and all that crap.

mmmmmm
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Bread snobbery aside, this is a really good bread.  We enjoyed it with some chorizo lentil soup. Then gave lots to the neighbors so it wasn’t in the house.

Try it. Keep the dough a little stickier than your comfort level, though.  

Yes, we ate that entire loaf. Go ahead, judge me.
Yes, we ate that entire loaf. Go ahead, judge me.

Find the recipe here. 

And, of course, this opens the door to Karen’s Quest for the Perfect Home Baguette…… just don’t tell Bill.