Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Week in Chimpanzee Bread Baking: Peter Reinhart's Focaccia

As I'm still fascinated with Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, especially since the Pain à l'Ancienne attempt went so well, I'm going to, once again, bake a recipe from the aforementioned book. I've been doing my bread baking on weekends up until now, but since Anna is going down to Jersey to spend time with her Pops on Fathers' Day like a good daughter, and I enjoyed making the Pain à l'Ancienne with her quite a lot, I decided to try and make this during the week. The recipe involves some "delayed fermentation"(i.e. time overnight in the refrigerator), similar to the Pain à l'Ancienne, and the actual baking time is short... so despite any proofing on the counter, with a little planning, hopefully we can avoid eating focaccia at midnight. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I'm just going to do the basic recipe with an herb oil... so not a pizza-esque focaccia or anything. One of the great things about this recipe is that it requires no special tools... no baking stone, no stand mixer or food processor... just a half sheet pan and some strong hands. A quick Google hasn't turned up the version of this recipe I'm going to do, but VeganYumYum has it using a poolish. The recipe is illustrated with lots of great pictures, so I recommend checking it out.

After a quick trip to the grocery store to grab some cheap olive oil (you don't need EVOO for this since it's going to be cooked), I'll make the herb oil and dough tonight so that we can bake it tomorrow. I haven't completely decided on the composition of the herb oil, but our new window herb garden is thriving, and we need to trim it back... so I've got some fresh basil, oregano, and rosemary in mind... maybe some sage and thyme, but I don't want it to be too busy. Some fresh pressed garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and maybe some paprika sound good as well. All of that goes into some warmed olive oil to steep for a few hours. My mouth is watering already.

focaccia photo by flickr user tiny banquet committee used under a Creative Commons license