What have you been up to in the kitchen?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Whole-wheat Focaccia

You will need:
3/4 oz fresh yeast, or 1 and a half packets active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water

1 cup unbleached white flour
2 and a half cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil (the good stuff if you have it)

4 cloves garlic, sliced in half, then half lenghwise again
chopped fresh rosemary
drained, sliced green olives (any variety you like will work)

To prepare the yeast:

This is not as daunting as it might sound. Place the yeast in a small bowl. Add the sugar and half the lukewarm water and stir carefully until the yeast has dissolved. Set bowl aside for 10-15 minutes, a foam will form on the surface. Stir the yeast again before proceeding to make the dough.

Combine both flours in a large bowl with the salt. Make a hollow in the flour and pour in 3 tablespoons oil, the yeast, and the remaining water. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture, until the flour has almost all been absorbed. *Note* Whatever brand whole-wheat flour I am using, seems to have super-absorbtion abilities, and I needed to add extra water, a little at a time, to get most of the dry ingredients incorporated.

Cover with a dish-towel, and let rise for 1 and a half hours. The bowl I chose wasn't quite big enough, and it started to overflow.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead for 2-3 minutes, adding any chopped herbs you'd like.

Place the dough on an oiled baking sheet, and using your hands, spread it into whatever shape strikes your fancy. At first, this might seem futile, as the dough tends to want to pull back into a small ball, rather than stretch to my whim. Keep working - it will eventually obey you.

Garnish with anything - I scattered the sliced garlic and olives across the top, and then pressed them in. Sprinkled with some rosemary drizzled with the remaining oil, and it's ready to go into the overn, pre-heated to 400 degrees. Other topping variations include sea salt, sliced green chilies, thinly sliced Fontina cheese, chopped sage, basil etc., sliced red onions, and tomatoes. Bake for about 25 minutes, until top is slightly golden brown.

This is a very hearty focaccia, and seems better sliced open for a sandwich, or dipped into sauce, than on it's own. It toasts beautifully, though some of my toppings were more inclined to fall off the top. Next time, I will be mixing the garlic into the dough, so it's flavor is more pronounced.

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