Kitchen Stories

First Focaccia

I have always loved to bake, primarily cookies and quick breads, but have shied away from yeast breads. One of my goals is to overcome my hesitancy to make bread from scratch (without a bread machine). It can be a daunting process because of the overall start to finish time, but it turns out that the actual work time is minimal, the true time involvement is the waiting. Also, it can be frustrating to invest a lot of ingredients only to find out at the very end that something didn’t work and you’re back to square one.

Never fear, you gotta start somewhere. My somewhere is the land of Focaccia. I stumbled upon a Focaccia book in Chef Husband’s cookbook collection, where I found a sweet orange-scented Focaccia recipe that sounded quite yummy. So here begins my first from-scratch yeast bread project.

I gathered my ingredients and followed the recipe pretty much word for word. I started at 11:34 and was done at 4:24. Over those 5 hours I “bloomed” yeast, added flour to make it a “sponge”, added more ingredients to make it a “dough”, kneaded, then went through 1st rise, then shaping and stretching it for the 2nd rise and finally baking it on a stone. Chef Husband poked his head in to help me with the rising process and transferring the dough to the hot stone. He taught me about warmth and humidity being necessary to get the dough to rise. He showed me the trick of adding a cup of hot water, in a Pyrex, to the bottom of a warming oven to help with the 2nd rise.

Things I learned:
The best tool for zesting an orange is a Microplane
Weighing flour on a digital scale gives you the most precise volume
To use unsalted butter and add the salt yourself as needed
Time actually goes quicker than you think, especially if you don’t have everything lined out and ready to go for the next step and you’re suddenly scrambling to catch up.

Yes, I am absolutely going to try making bread again. Next time I want to try it without the stone, on a parchment lined pan. It was a little too brown on the bottom for my taste.

Until next time…

Culinarily Yours,
Mrs. Chef (Christa)