Thursday, June 16, 2011

no-knead focaccia.


My ventures into the no-knead bread world doesn't amount to much so far, but if all no-knead recipes were this easy and satisfying, I may have to put away my bread machine for a long long time.

In bread, chew is very important. And that chew comes from the activation of gluten in the dough, and that means lots and lots of kneading. If you have a bread machine, or a mixer with a dough hook, you're saved! But if you don't, you're probably going to develop some sexy muscles. Speaking of muscles, I realized that baking is a very good workout for your arms. I don't exercise much, actually... not at all, but because of all the baking I do, my arms have considerably more power than my legs do. Years of whisking and mixing and carrying the mixer do have some use!

Anyway, back to the focaccia. Even though there's no need to knead because it's no-knead (sorry, can't resist), it has a wonderful chewy texture while being soft and airy at the same time. If I'm not wrong, the gluten develops when the dough is left to rise longer than usual, probably more than doubling in size before collapsing. This "stretch" is what activates the gluten, and you don't have to do a thing except wait. I think that's a pretty good compromise.


Flavour-wise, I think this dough is a little too yeasty. I would recommend reducing the amount of yeast to a tablespoon. The large amount of yeast also made this dough really hyper-active. After I stashed it in the fridge overnight, it continued to rise to double its volume again in just 2 hours! It spilled out of my bowl very unattractively, I assure you, stretching the cling-wrap binding it to its limits. It's like a volcano eruption, only instead of ash and smoke, it was pillowy bread dough. The best focaccia I had to date was using Jamie Oliver's recipe for a basic bread dough. I used to make it numerous times before I started this blog.

This no-knead dough recipe comes from My Baking Addiction and I simply turned it into focaccia by puncturing finger-sized holes into the dough, sprinkling on coarse salt and drizzling extra virgin olive oil over just before sending it into the oven. I baked it until it sounded hollow when tapped and then drizzled more extra virgin olive oil over again. And extra salt. Then, I ignored the rule of letting the bread cool before slicing and tucked in. I suggest you do that too.

Mmm, I love focaccia.


Olive Oil Dough

From Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes 4-1 lb loaves. (This recipe can easily be doubled or halved.)
Ingredients
2-3/4 cups lukewarm water
1-1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast (2 packets) *I recommend reducing this to 1 tablespoon
1-1/2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour *I used bread flour
Directions
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, or in a large (5 quart) bowl working with a wooden spoon, mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water.
2. Mix in the flour without kneading. I found this process to be incredible simple with my stand mixer, but it will certainly come together the old fashioned way. If you are not using a machine, you may need to wet your hands in order to incorporate the bit of flour.
2. Transfer dough to large (5 quart) bowl or lidded food container. Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
3. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 12 days.

3 comments :

  1. I love focaccia but have never been able to make a satisfactory version. This looks great so I may have to give it a try. Thanks!

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  2. Cowabonga! Love the recipe but to one who lives alone that is a huge amount of dough. I'll be baking for the whole block. Wish it was scaled down. Thanks, nice blog, nice pix, good job.

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    Replies
    1. I usually divide the recipe by 4 when making it for just me or a small group of people:)

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