My ideal for Focaccia comes from walking on the Portofino docks. In fact, Portofino is my ideal for two things, Focaccia and the idyllic port I’d most like to sail into in a small sail boat. On the occasion of my most heavenly Focaccia, we didn’t sail in, we drove the winding roads darkening into a rainy evening. We stopped when we came to two hotels, one was closed for the season, we were the only guests at the other. Our room was on the water, we slept with the doors open to the sound of waves and rain. The next morning we discovered we hadn’t made it to Portofino. We’d stopped just short of Portofino. To get to town we either had to get back in the car and drive a couple miles around the corner OR walk about a mile over the gentle hill across the road and through olive groves where they were netting olives. Which way did we go? The day was brilliant and we covered the town and the hills around. We were walking the docks in early afternoon. We bought a slab of warm from the oven Rosemary garlic focaccia from a bakery and sat down at a dockside wine place and watched the boats sailing. That has always been how I define focaccia, thick and billowy with deep pockets of fruity olive oil and rosemary with the perfect touch of salt.
Now this Focaccia, Cathy’s Focaccia, this is not how I define Focaccia. Cathy’s Focaccia (because you know by now Cathy of BreadExperience is our KOM) is NOT my Portofino Focaccia BUT let me tell you it now defines Glorious Spring Crispy Focaccia for me even if the temp was only 33° when I made this. The babes kept showing this baked with lemons and were raving about a cookbook “The Flavor Bible” and I’m thinking “Nope no more cookbooks until I have a real oven and slice a fresh lemon and put it on bread to bake, and then I’m supposed to eat.” NOT going to happen.
Thanks, but no I won’t be eating my hat, perhaps my words. I will be baking another Thin Crispy Lemon and Asparagus Focaccia, Thank You very much Cathy.
Thin Crispy Spring Focaccia
Recipe By: Cathy (breadexperience)
Yield: Four ~400-gram Focaccias
40 grams (100 %) Bread Flour
44 grams (125%) water, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon/ 4 grams (10%) instant yeast
668 grams (80%) Bread Flour, I used 600 grams
167 grams (20%) Sprouted Spelt Flour (or whole wheat or bread flour), I used 235 grams sprouted wheat
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
625 grams (75%) – 725 grams (87%) water *
84 grams (All) Poolish
17 grams Olive Oil
25 grams water (3%), to mix with the salt
17 grams Coarse Sea Salt
Coarse Sea Salt, for sprinkling if desired
Fennel Seeds, to taste
Dried Thyme, to taste
Lemon slices, thinly sliced
Spring Mix Greens, or other greens as desired
1. *The bread flour I used is closer to a light whole wheat and I also used some sprouted wheat which absorbs more liquid. If using regular white bread flour, the hydration should be closer to 77% – 80%.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the bread flour and yeast. Pour in the room temperature water and combine using a wooden spoon. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula or dough scraper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter at room temperature (75 degrees F. /25 degrees C.) for 12 to 14 hours.
3. Final Dough:
The next day, or when ready to mix the final dough, whisk together the flours and yeast in a large bowl. Pour the water and oil over the poolish and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk to break up the poolish. Add the water gradually, reserving the 25 grams to mix with the salt. I started with about 650 grams (78%), then gradually added more water until the dough reached the consistency I was looking for 725 grams (87%). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a dough scraper, cover and let it rest (autolyze) for 20 minutes.
4. Uncover and sprinkle the salt over the top of the dough. Pour the remaining 25 grams of water over the salt to dissolve it. Using wet hands, thoroughly incorporate the salt into the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
5. Sprinkle water on a work surface. Uncover the dough and transfer it to the wet surface. Using wet hands, fold the dough from all sides. Then gently tuck the seams under and place the dough back in the bowl. Using water on the counter and your hands, alleviates the need to oil the bowl or the work surface. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set the dough aside for the third time to ferment for 20 minutes.
6. Sprinkle water on the work surface again and fold the dough one last time. Tuck the seams under and place it back in the bowl. Cover and set it aside to ferment for 2 hours.
7. An hour before you plan to bake the focaccia, place a baking stone or tiles in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F. (260 degrees C.) If you plan to use a pan for steam, place it in the oven at this time.
8. Sprinkle your work surface with water. Transfer the dough to the work surface and divide it into four equal pieces. Depending on the type of flour you use and the hydration, each piece will be approximately 400 grams. Mine were about 410 grams each.
Shape each piece into a round and cover with plastic. Let them bench rest for 15 minutes.
At this point, wrap the dough balls you won’t be baking in oiled plastic, placed them in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator to use another day. I froze two. Feel free to make them all at once if you prefer.
9. Lightly oil two half sheets of parchment paper. Place one dough ball on each sheet. Gently press on the dough to degas it and then shape each piece into a flattish round. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap and let them proof for 45 minutes.
Uncover the dough, drizzle olive oil over the top and gently stretch each piece into an oval disk the length of the parchment paper, or to the desired size. I sprinkled the top with sea salt (optional), pepper and place thinly sliced lemons, then laid my asparagus.
10. Using a baker’s peel or unrimmed baking sheet, transfer the focaccia (on the parchment) to the preheated baking stone. My little Breville oven only goes to 450 but it does have a baking stone (my steel is too large but works on the outside grill).
Bake the focaccia for 10 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and crisp around the edges. Remove the parchment paper partway through baking to allow the bottom to firm up. Mine took 25 minutes at 450°. The hotter 500° would have eliminated the center softer crust I’m sure and would have baked much faster which I know produces much better crust.
Repeat with the remaining focaccias.
This focaccia makes a great appetizer or the main meal. For Cathy the flavors of the fennel seed, thyme and lemon paired really well. She and her taste testers really enjoyed the hint of tanginess you get when you bite into a piece with a lemon slice. However, feel free to use the toppings and flavors of your choice.
I’ll be baking my 2nd dough ball of Cathy’s Spring Focaccia today, slightly warmer more spring like today in the 60’s. Trust me, try at least one with lemon. I know I’ll be putting many lemons on this again.
And, yes, alright I did buy the book. And No, I still only have the little Breville convection toaster oven.