Saturday, August 22, 2009

BBA Challenge #13 (and a 1/2): Foccacia

So I have to admit something. I am now spoiled on bread. I used to love the Kürbiskernbrot (Pumpkin Seed Bread) from the bakery across the street, and would buy it on an almost weekly basis. I still love their bread. In fact, I get a Rosinenbrötchen (Raisin Roll) there too many mornings than I care to count. Of course, this replaced my Nuss-Nougat Croissant habit. Think of a croissant full of Nutella that has thickened from baking. Plus, they make everything on site, unlike most other bakeries in Germany.

Well, actually, that's not fair. Almost every bakery makes everything on site. But a lot of it is from a mix. Just add water and butter. A colleague of mine once asked why a Maltobrötchen was called that, and what whas in it. The woman behing the counter said she didn't know, and did she want the Brötchen or not?

This is actually not leading up to my love of Foccacia. On the contrary, I'm more of a Bruschetta guy myself. But, rather, it's leading up to this:

I began making the Focaccia about a week and a half ago, on a sunday in which I knew we would have visitors coming over. It was quite early, and we had been to the Berlin Festival the night before. We saw Deichkind, which is a German- er- hip-hop band, and their stage act, which was obscenely weird, but not obscene. Well, not really.

Unfortunately, there is a gap of seven photographs in my camera count, and I can only make the excuse that these seven photographs would have been crucial in showing you what I did to make the Foccacia. Instead, here's a picture the Berlin Wall Memorial where I took my guests. This is all that is left of what the wall really looked like when it was still up. It's missing a strip of barbed wire in there as well.

Sorry to put a damper on things, but this is what happened on the day I had the first attempt at the Foccacia.

I got as far as the second fold before I was called away, so I just put it in a bowl and stuck it in the fridge. That was Sunday.

On Monday, I took the bowl out for about half an hour before I realized I had no time to make it. Same thing on Tuesday. On Wednesday I had given up and had to work late as it was the last work day before my vacation. Four days in Paris and an additional week off. I left it in there until Monday.

Of course, it's pretty difficult to get motivated when you've just pulled this from your carry-on bag. I'll give you a clue. It's from Paris.

Originally, I had used only Type 550 flour, as it is the closest thing to All-Purpose Flour that we have. Because I had to make it a second time, and because I normally like darker breads, for the new Foccacia I had to use a mix of 550 and 1050, as I had run out of 812. I'll write up a post on German Flours in the near future, and something more comprehensive once the Challenge is over. By the way, the flour here is pure flour. That is, there is no barley in it at all.

The mise en place for this one was very simple. I poured in the oil with the water, so that bowl of what looks like olive oil is only a thin layer, not the whole bowl.

I know how much everyone loves seeing photos of the DLX in action.

Depending on the flour, and the circumstances, I sometimes have to scrape down the bowl.

Here's the plopping down of the dough onto a quarter cup of oil. Then a half cup of herb oil on top.

I was freaking out when dimpling the dough. The oil was pooling and I wasn't sure if it was supposed to do that, but I had read an early post by someone in the challenge that the dough had absorbed all the oil, so I decided to just let it go.

I had made the herb oil on the same day I made the first bread attempt, and had run out of rosemary, and had no fresh basil. The herb oil was heavy on the oregano and the garlic.

I had to clear a shelf in the fridge. And then clear off the shelf above because the sheet pan sized to perfectly fit in the oven with no circulation space was too wide and bumped up against a shelf.

And the first attempt? I just shaped the dough into two batard-ish shapes and let them proof for a bit before baking.

This is what the bottom looked like. There were two loaves and both were given away.

I managed to get a picture of the crumb. Beautiful. And very tasty. But felt odd about giving away a partially cut loaf. However, it's too much bread. And I had started the pate fermentee for the French Bread as well as the Biga for the Italian bread, so I knew we would be rolling in bread.

There were pools of oil even on the corners of the pan.

And even the uncooked crust looked promising.

I realized at this point that I hadn't carefully read through the recipe and fished around for something that I could add to the Focaccia to jazz it up a bit. I added the Parmesan in the last five minutes of baking.

I over-browned it, but it still looked nice. When I took it off the sheet pan, it came off like a huge flatbread. It was so odd.

I didn't take any pics of the whole thing as it was pretty big and weird looking.

There were nice big holes in the crumb, though.

What disappointed me about the Foccacia was that it wasn't soft, like I'm used to. It was soft in the inside, and a bit tough and dry on the outside. I might have left it in too long.

It wasn't until reading everyone else's posts that I realized I could have topped it with loads of veggies. Oh, well. Until next time.

If you haven't had enough of bread, check out these other Foccacias:
Paul at Yumarama
Cheryl is A Tiger in The Kitchen
Kelly, distracted by Something Shiny
Mags from The Other Side of Fifty
Jeff makes Culinary Disasters

Oh, and by the way, that mystery loaf of bread from the beginning? It's 600g of a Poilâne Miche, left over from our Paris Picnic.

Once again, this bread post could not have been possible without Nicole of Pinch My Salt for hosting the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.


  1. My focaccia was soggy from oiling the pan after the second fold; however, I made it a second time and put it directly on the parchment. I only dimpled in 1/4 c. of the herbed oil and sprinkled Parmesan cheese during the last 5 minutes of baking. It came out beautiful, both top and bottom ~ focaccia is definitely worth making a second time around!

  2. I think your focaccia looks great. I love the pictures of the dough drenched in olive oil.

  3. This is how I like focaccia, chewy with plenty of large holes. I also love the crumb of your first attempt.

  4. Of all the recipes we've made from the book thus far, the cinnamon rolls and the focaccia are the only two I've already made twice. I have limited experience with focaccia, so my opinion is based upon that, but I thought it was to die for! Yours looks so yummy... and olive oily... and perfect. Thanks for linking to my post!