Friday, October 30, 2009

Goat Cheese and Onion Foccacia

The finished product

I decided to adapt a foccacia recipe from one of my favorite bread books Baking Artisan Bread: 10 Expert Formulas for Baking Better Bread at Home. It turned out quite well, although we had so much of it I'd rather not eat foccacia again for a while.


Bread Flour: 330g (2 1/2 cups)
Water (room temperature): 330g (1 1/2 cups)
Instant Yeast: pinch

First up was an overnight poolish. Equal parts flour and water (by weight) and a pinch of yeast, it adds more bread-y flavor and gives the yeast a bit of a head start (although with instant yeast, it's really just for flavor).

It will grow quite a bit overnight. Don't leave it more than 12-16 hours,
it may become massive and turn against you and your family.


Bread Flour: 613g (4 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp)
Water (102 degrees F): 405g (1 3/4 cups)
Instant Yeast: 2.6g (3/4 tsp)
Salt: 18g (3 1/2 tsp)
Poolish: All

When mixing a relatively wet dough like this, I like to add the liquid first and then the dry. I've done it the other way and had dry chunks of flour that never worked their way into the dough. Not good times. I mixed on low speed for 5-6 minutes and stopped every couple of minutes to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to work in any lingering flour.

Once everything is incorporated, the dough looked pretty wet and sticky. I cranked it up to medium for about a minute and then gently scraped/poured it into a greased proofing container (ideally about 6-8 quarts with a lid). The dough more than doubled in size over the course of the next few hours, so a large enough container is important!

I let it hang out at room temperature for about 30 minutes at 75-80 degrees. If the house is cooler, it will probably take longer. Basically, it needs to roughly double in size.

It should pour slowly from the mixer into your proofing container.
If it doesn't it is probably too dry.

Stretch and Fold:

Now for the messy (read: fun) part. At this point, the dough is quite sticky and difficult to handle. It helps to wet your hands before handling really sticky dough. In order to give the bread enough strength to stand on its own, I did a series of stretch and folds. Basically, you grab one end, stretch it up, and fold it back over the blob of dough. Repeat this for each of the three remaining sides. I put the cover back on and let it sit for another 30 minutes or so. I repeated this whole stretch and fold process 3 more times until I felt it start to become a little firmer and easier to handle.

"If you degas me, I shall become more delicious than you could possibly imagine."


After I sufficiently abused my dough and made it tough enough to face the world, I plopped it into a slightly oiled sheet pan.

I then drizzled some olive oil on top to prevent my fingers from sticking and gently pushed it out to the edges of the pan using my finger tips which also helped add the trademark foccacia dimples. It took a while to get the dough relaxed enough to cooperate (insert your own joke here) and I eventually got it into a square shape with a series of outward fingertip massages with a 10 minute rest in between (3 in total).

My favorite part of foccacia is the toppings. Now was that time. After carmelizing some onions for an hour, I spread them out and added a little bit of salt and pepper. Just a 30 minute rest, and the dough is ready for the oven!

Ready to bake after the final proof.


In a 480 degree oven, I baked it for about 30 minutes (adding the cheese after about 20 minutes to prevent burning). The onions were definitely a little too burned and I probably should have added them about 15-20 minutes into baking. The cheese was also a little dry. Putting it on with 4-5 minutes to go would have been a lot better I think. But overall, the foccacia was a success!

Note: I got quite a bit of lift in the oven. The foccacia basically doubled in size in the first few minutes. Saf-Instant yeast does not eff around.

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