October 17, 2012

Focaccia and cooking class.

I'm not a bread baker. Every time I deal with yeast I feel uncomfortable and worried about final result.  Therefore I decided to take a class about pizza & focaccia dough. Everybody likes pizza and focaccia, but not everybody can bake them. It's was my first experience with community education in America. First of all, I did not expect to see a well-equipped demo kitchen in a community center. They have a world-class demo kitchen, which I can use for community cooking class which I want to organize.  For nearly 2 hours I had fun making dough for focaccia and pizza. And I'm ready to show off first results of my baking experiment.  I brought dough to home and kept in refrigerator for 5 days. At the end of the 5th day, I baked focaccia sprinkled with olive oil and salt. One thing, I can say, it's quite easy and delicious. It's much better than taking even a fresh bread from the bakery or supermarket.  Now,  the recipe.  The recipe goes from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois's books.

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 Tablespoon yeast
1/2 Tablespoon salt (you may use less)
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 1/2 cups bread flour (you can use all-purpose flour)

This recipes makes enough dough 2  9-inch focaccias. you may substitute up to 25% whole wheat flour for the bread flour.
Mix yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with water in contained that has a lid. Mix in flour using spoon, food processor or mixer with a dough hook. Mix until the last bit of flour incorporated.
Cover, NOT AIRTIGHT, and allow to rest at room temperature for approximately 2 hours. Dough will rise to double in size. Dough can be used immediately after initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) contained and use for pizza or flatbread over the next 14 days.

Focaccia is also given time to "proof" (rise), 20 minutes before baling. Preheat oven to 460F, rack on middle shelf. Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly brown. Before baking, I sprinkle focaccia with olive oil and sea salt.

Now, I have to have a special word for the presenter. Carol was so nice and attentive that all of us in class successed in our dough making. Her directions were easy and simple. I think, even a man can do such easy recipe and enjoy a fresh focaccia or pizza at home. It does not require a lot of skills, equipment or time. Definitely, I will use the recipe over and over again.  Thanks Carol for a good recipe and a lot of useful advices how to handle an yeast dough.