I’ve finally broken up my focaccia dough. Any ideas on how to update it?Tony, London SW9
The joy of this bubbly bread is that you can be as basic or creative as you want (see #focacciaart on Instagram, where asparagus stalks disguise yourself as flower stalks and tomatoes like petals). You could, says a baker from Bath. Richard Bertinet, just change the oil. “Use the same recipe, but swap the olive for avocado oil. It’s richer and the color is beautiful. “
Alternatively, play with the flour. Dough master Martha De Lacey, who runs the online cooking school The kitchen muff, recommends sticking with 70% strong white bread flour as a base (“you want to keep the gluten quite strong”), then mixing with wheat, spelled, rye and traditional flours like einkorn. You can also turn to a sourdough starter, either by adding a tablespoon to your yeast dough (in which case reduce the amount of water you use, De Lacey says), or by betting all and using the starter (100g to 500g of flour) to rise your bread.
On Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat on Netflix, Samin Nosrat pour care (salt mixed with water) over his batter, a strategy De Lacey also adopts (with a splash of vinegar or kombucha for good measure). “It soaks into the focaccia, making it salty and moist, and the water creates steam in the oven, which makes the focaccia rise even higher.” Be generous – “about a cup’s value for a large pan” – or use olive brine instead. “I love topping the focaccia with Perelló olives , then pour over the brine from the can. “
That said, Tony could also stir olives through their batter and / or chopped herbs or cheese and Marmite, says De Lacey. Rebecca Oliver, Co-Founder of The dusty knuckle London bakery, which has earned a cult following for its epic focaccia sandwiches, prefers a little pumpkin. “Chop into 1 cm cubes, roast with thyme, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil, then fold through the dough with chunks of gorgonzola.”
When it comes to toppings, Bertinet, who runs The Bertinet Kitchen cooking school, he is “a classic boy”. That means cooked and sliced new potatoes and I ate. “So get a whole head of garlic [skin on] and blanch in olive oil until caramelized inside [when a knife goes through]. “Let cool, then squeeze the teeth out of the skin and use them to cover the dough. You will die happy.
The same could be said for caramelized red onions. Oliver adds a “healthy amount” of olive oil (about five tablespoons) to a hot skillet, then tosses in red onions, cut into half moons, and after a minute, three sprigs of thyme and a tablespoon of good red wine vinegar. Once cool, spread it over the dough and bake. Onions play great with goat cheese and herbs too, adds De Lacey, whose dressing adventures also include feta grapes and even a sweet incarnation: “Add cocoa to your batter and smash some chocolate on top. That would be fine with grapes too. “
Focaccia sandwiches are always a good idea, and De Lacey’s rule of thumb is to keep the fillings moist.. That could mean goat curd and roasted vegetables, a Caesar salad with roast chicken, or, for Oliver, meatballs with plenty of tomato sauce, Ogleshield Cheese and pickled cucumbers. “That is absolutely great.”
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