Potlucks are a good opportunity to make something that I don’t normally make. For a recent holiday potluck with friends, I wanted to make something that would work at room temperature, and would contribute to the main meal rather than after-dinner sweets.
I’d made a tomato-topped focaccia a couple of years ago that turned out very well, so I decided to make that again with a couple of adjustments:
- hard white wheat flour instead of hard red wheat flour
- measured the amount of extra water so I’d have a benchmark
Rustic Bread, Pain a l’Ancienne Method from Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Bread Making course on Craftsy.com
- 567 gm freshly-milled hard white wheat flour
- 11 gm sea salt
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 454 gm filtered water + 140 gm more (to compensate for using whole grain flour)
- Mix flour, salt, yeast, and water in stand mixer with paddle on slow speed for 2 min. Increase to medium for 2 min. Rest 15 min.
- Line half pan with parchment and coat with 3 tbsp olive oil.
- 4 stretch and folds with 5 min. intervals.
- Spread dough into pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Take out of refrigerator 3 hrs. before baking. Make herb oil.
- After 2 hr., slice tomatoes and marinate in herb oil.
- 2:40 after taking out of refrigerator, the dough was still chilly — placed in oven with Proof setting on for 20 min.
- Take out of oven and top with tomatoes and oil, lightly dimpling the oil into the dough without pressing it all flat.
- Rise 30 min. uncovered.
- Preheat oven to 450° convection bake (dough is still rising).
- Let oven preheat an additional 15 min. after it reached 450°.
- Baked 25 min., let cool in pan for about 15 min., then removed and sliced into squares.
The smell of this bread baking was incredible! I couldn’t wait until the potluck to eat a slice. And I’m glad I did because I learned that it’s much tastier fresh out of the oven, rather than a few hours later. It’s still good later, but not as impressive as oven-crisp.
The dough was very wet, and I think I used too much water. The bread has irregular wholes which was cool to see.
The texture right out of the oven was moist, but worked. The next day, the texture suffered a little bit — it got a little chewy and the flavors dulled some. To add more flavor, I’ll top with some shredded mozzarella and warm under the broiler.
Next time, I’d pull back on the water, and instead of adding 140 gm extra, start with 50 gm and see if more is needed. And this is a lot of focaccia — which was OK for a potluck, but for just two of us I’d cut the recipe in half and bake in a small pan.