I sometimes get a huge craving for chewy, crusty white bread, aka focaccia. Trader Joe’s makes a great one that comes in both little rolls and baguettes.
But I discovered while on coronavirus quarantine that it’s unbelievably easy to make at home. Granted, I haven’t quit perfected the recipe yet – I only made my first batch last night, and I don’t yet have any of the right equipment (although a $125 order from Amazon and a few weeks to wait for delivery should take care of that problem). But so far it looks promising.
And did I mention how ridiculously easy it is?? It takes less than a minute to throw the 4 ingredients together; 5 minutes to “knead” in the bowl; and then after it rises a couple hours, a couple minutes to shape into the loaf you want.
Granted, this video makes it sound a whole lot less easy – or at least, more time consuming. So once I get all my equipment I’m going to try a batch his way, and we’ll see if it’s noticeably better than the following.
Makes 1 smallish loaf of bread
1 1/2 c bread flour
3/4 c 100° water
1 t yeast
1 t kosher salt
a pinch of coarse cornmeal, to dust your cooking pan with
Optional: herbs or cheese or whatever suits your fancy
Stir together your dry ingredients, then add the water, and incorporate with your fingers. It will be messy and sticky. Even the finished product – after you “knead” the dough in the bowl for several minutes, with the fingers of one hand – will continue to be sticky. However, it will start to be elastic, not just a goopy mess.
Then you need to let it rise for 2 hours in a warm place, so it doubles and gets all filled with air pockets. The recipe I followed says it will taste better if you let it continue to rise in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, and up to 3 days. So I put it in the fridge for about 10 hours.
But then in the morning when I turned it out of the bowl, I squashed a bunch of those air bubbles. Partly this was because I hadn’t greased the bowl that I let it rise in so it stuck and pulled a bit as I took it out. I could have let it rise again to bring the bubbles back, but a) I was impatient and b) I didn’t have one of those banneton baskets, which would allow it to rise while maintaining its shape.
So, I just threw it in the oven and hoped for the best.
One thing is that the recipe calls for baking it at 475° but my toaster oven only goes up to 450°. And I wonder if it’s even that hot, because the recipe only called for it to cook for 20-25 minutes. But after 30 minutes, my bread was still slightly raw on the bottom. So I put it back in and cooked it for another 10 minutes, and it was fine.
The finished bread was tasty, and had the chewiness you want in your focaccia; but it definitely was more dense than you want.