Focaccia



pronounced: foh-KAH-cha
Makes 5-7 focaccias


Ingredients:

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 4 cups very warm water
  • 1 Tbs or 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup salt or less to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive or other shortening

Method:

Mix ingredients in a large bowl making a batter. Cover with plastic or a wet towel and place in a warm spot for about 40 minutes to an hour until visibly fermenting with plenty of bubbles.
Add more flour in increments of a cup or a little more at a time, fold in well by rotating the bowl and working from the sides inwards with a large spoon or spatula, trying not to deflate or over mix the dough. You should allow some resting time in between adding the flour (20 minutes or more on average) using up to 4 cups or a little more to achieve roughly a ratio of 2 parts flour to one part water (this will make a very 'slack' or wet dough, if you find this too difficult to work with, just add or dust with more flour).
After adding all the flour to achieve a dough that will start to come off the sides of the bowl, replace plastic or towel, put back in a warm spot and ferment until at least double in size. Afterwards, pour dough unto a clean smooth surface generously dusted with flour. With a dough cutter or other tool, fold dough in three - letter style. Allow dough to rest and repeat this step a couple of times while incorporating a little more flour. Allow another resting period before cutting and portioning dough. You should be able to make 6 to 8 pieces at least, depending on the focaccia size you wish to obtain.
After cutting, allow a final resting and rising period (about 1/2 hour) and then you are ready to bake it in a very hot oven (450° to 550° F.) which you will have preheated at least one hour ahead of time.
If using a peel/paddle and baking stone/tiles, dust paddle with flour then shape dough by pushing with your fingers into a flat shape. If using a sheet-pan lightly grease it, then follow procedure as described above: by shaping the dough right unto the sheet-pan.
Top with favorite toppings and herbs (thinly sliced apples, potatoes or pears; tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives, artichoke hearts, olives, roasted or raw red peppers, rosemary, oregano, cayenne or pepper flakes, cheese or whatever you wish) season w/salt and pepper drizzle with olive oil and you are ready to bake.
If using a paddle or peel slide right unto hot stone/tiles, otherwise just place sheet-pan in oven.
Bake anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes depending on temperature and kind of oven, until bottom crust is well done and the top a golden color.

Variations:

You can also make one or two full-size rectangular loaves in a sheet pan, depending on the size of the pan. Using this method you should grease the pan well and do the final rise right in it before baking, just like you would for a Sicilian-style pizza. The same dough can be used to make rustic ciabatta bread (pronounced: cha-BAH-tah) and pizza.

Copyleft (2010) The Budget Gourmet

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