Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fun With Flat Bread - Focaccia

I love bread, which is why I don't make bread. Yes, I know it's paradoxical, but if I make bread then I have to eat the bread. The problem is, that I love fresh baked bread SO much that I will sit and eat the whole loaf by myself while sitting in the corner, rocking back and forth and giggling to myself like Rumpelstiltzchen on crack. This is not a pretty picture for anyone, and it tends to frighten my neighbors.

But occasionally I need a "fix". When this happens, I warn all the neighbors and make focaccia bread. In particular, I make Kalamata olive and red onion topped focaccia bread. For it is uber delicious. Tonight, however, I decided to alter things a little bit, since the weather finally let up and the heat stopped (Thank God!) I made Chestnut, Sage and Shallot focaccia as well... A little reminiscent of some great fall flavors to go with the returning chill in the air.

Focaccia is really a simple bread to make, there is no yeast proofing in this recipe or anything, just mix up the dry and add the wet, then knead and let it rise... Now I have kneaded some tough dough over the years, this is a very soft dough, and you really don't have to muscle it in any way, I simple use my fingers and lean a little.

Honestly though, aside from being fairly simple to prepare, it is a great canvas for many ingredients. The best part, is that I get to play with some of my finishing type salts... Today I chose coarse Sel Gris and some fine Salish (Alder Smoked) salt.


For the Bread Dough
6 cups of Bread Flour (Gold Medal Harvest King - Bread flour, or equivalent, I think that a couple of flour companies even call it "Artisan" Flour to make it sound more Chi chi Poo poo)
1 tsp Kosher Salt
2 Pkgs Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water

Kalamata Olive & Onion
1/4 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives (Cut in Half either lengthwise or across, whichever blows your hair back)

Onion/Thyme Topping:
1 small Red Onions, Sliced in half and then into wedges (like you would an apple)
Olive oil for drizzling (About 2 TB)
1 TB Thyme leaves
1/4 cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
1 tsp Sel Gris salt (or Himalayan Pink or Hawaiian Black Lava Salt or Red Coral Salt or Alder Smoked Salt, etc. -- Really any of the fancy salts available, whichever you like since it is for "Finishing")

Chestnut Sage and Shallot:
To dough
1/2 cup roasted Chestnuts
1 TB fresh Chopped Sage

Sage/Shallot Topping:
1 Shallot, Sliced
(optional) Just a few of the chopped chestnuts
12-16 Sage Leaves
Olive oil for drizzling (About 2 TB)
1 tsp Salish Alder Smoked Salt (or Sel Gris or Red Coral Salt or Murray River Salt, Chardonnay Oak Smoked Salt etc. -- whichever you like since it is for "Finishing"

Line baking sheets with parchment
Whisk flour salt and yeast together in a bowl.

Add olive oil and warm water,

Then mix together to form a soft dough.

Knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board.

Place dough in an oiled bowl,

Cover and place in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.

Knead dough for a couple minutes to "Punch Down".

Normally, I simply Knead 1 cup of the olives into the dough, and proceed. But since I am making 2 different types, Go ahead and divide into 8 pieces.

Set aside 4 Pieces and chop your olives...

Flatten four of the dough pieces just a little and divide the chopped kalamata olives between them.

Roll the dough up to encase the olives.

Press the dough into a round shape on a parchment lined baking sheet. (Now this is where the Abusive part comes in) Grab your Pasta Fork.

Whack the heck out of the dough round. (Seriously, think of it as that game at Chuck E. Cheese, Whack-a-Mole)

or you can use your fingers, but the pasta fork is more fun... :)

Sprinkle top of rounds with onions and remaining olives.

Drizzle the tops with Olive oil and sprinkle with Sel Gris and thyme.
Cover and let rise again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

For the Chestnut/Sage...

Take the other 4 pieces of dough and flatten them out.
Grab your roasted Chestnuts.

Divide the Chopped sage and chopped chestnuts between them.

Roll up to encase the fillings.

Flatten on parchment lined baking sheet and whack the heck out of them.

Top with sage leaves (a little Sage triquatra action going on), a couple of chestnut hunks, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Salish Salt.

Cover and let rise 30 minutes
Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375, until golden.



BAKING is my ZeN said...


This looks divine...I used to bake bread, but stopped. Don't know why. You've given me a reason to try it again! You go guy!
Carmen - BAKING is my ZeN

Danielle said...

That looks relatively easy, and not a whole lot of time to do it either....omg....I never knew I could make focaccia. YAY...thanks for posting this. Ant they're so beautiful too! :)

Spryte said...

Those look great! Are they single serving size?

Culinary Alchemist said...

Thanks Carmen :)

Danielle - Thanks, They are extremely easy and so versatile.

Spryte - Thank you. They are, but it's a BIG serving... If I make a sandwich, I usually use half a loaf, unless I ma REALLY hungry.
You can also make 4 larger loaves instead or the 8 small and then divide into quarters for sandwich applications.. :)