Focaccia Fun

I have just completed week 8 of my bread class.  I remember when signing up for this class how unexcited I was about taking it.  I thought it would be hard to grasp and a lot of work, a lot of time waiting around and watching dough.  To some extent, it is a bit boring.  You can only watch dough grow for a small percentage of time before you feel like taking a nap.  But I have to admit now, 8 weeks in with only 2 more to go, that I am actually having fun in this class.  I am starting to understand what the deal is with making bread and I just get it.  It really is not hard to make bread.  So, seriously, if you are contemplating getting a bread maker, DON’T.  Save your money to buy some good flour and fresh yeast and make it at home with your own two hands.  So worth it and so gratifying.

I was unusually excited for this week’s class.  My table mates were laughing at my clapping dance that I would bust out randomly  while I worked my way through my 5 hours.  The fun started the other day when I was shopping for my ingredients to use in class.  This week we made Focaccia and Italian bread.  Essentially the same dough, with only a difference of one ingredient.

Our Table of ingredients.

Again, per the norm, we started with a yeast slurry, added the flour and the rest of the ingredients, mixed until the dough was in clean up stage and we could form a window with some dough.  Then the dough was left it to proof.  Punched down, proofed again.  Divided.  Then shaped.

Focaccia first.  I forgot to grab some “before the oven” pictures, because I had to get them in the steam oven in a hurry.  So below are my attempts at focaccia, fresh out of the oven.  I have two that are made with my olive oil infusion, rosemary, black olives and herbed goat cheese.

On my next two, I layered roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes, marinated mushrooms and some more goat cheese. The steam oven made the dough nice and crispy. This could also be considered a pizza. In fact, the dough makes for a great traditional pizza dough.

Next I played around with the dough for the Italian bread. Taking the dough, I used the rolling pin to flatten out the dough into a semi rectangular shape. At this point, I still had enough focaccia toppings to use up, so I did. It all went onto the flattened dough. And then I rolled them up, almost like a stromboli. But, I then cut them into 6 pieces, closed off one end on those with openings on both, sat upright on a baking sheet with so the toppings are now fillings. For a softer bread, into the normal ovens these went.

















My last piece of dough was formed in a more traditional way. It started out like a big bagel, and ended up a nice round loaf. That’s cornmeal on the bottom, which is a common trait of Italian bread.

The day started out with a free Starbucks coffee and ended with a whole bag load of fantastic looking and tasty bread.  The herbs were fragrant and the toppings savoury.  I am obsessed with roasted garlic.  Just eating it alone smeared on some bread is amazing.  I could eat it all the time.  I learned some new recipes and some tips about how to use onions and make a tomato sauce.  It was quite a jam-packed afternoon.  *Clapping Dance, Clapping Dance*  =)


The Sum of All Parts

Purchased some ingredients today to use in my bake class tomorrow. I won’t tell you what I’m making yet, I’ll save that reveal for later. But have a look at what I’m bringing in.

I have some marinated mushrooms.  They are marinated in some oil and vinegar and spices.

I have some black olives and rosemary.  I prefer black olives over green, I find that they aren’t as salty and I love the smell of rosemary. 

I have some garlic.  Scroll down a bit more to see what I did with these cloves.  

I have some herbed goat cheese.  I have become a fan of soft cheeses these days, Brie, blue cheese and now goat. 

Lastly, I have sun dried tomatoes and olive oil. 

I made an oil infusion with the olive oil, rosemary and some of the garlic.  A couple of sprigs of rosemary and a few bits of garlic left for 24 hours to allow the flavours to mix together.  Will be a great brushed over flavouring.  

Lastly, I roasted some garlic.  Ever roasted garlic?

This is how to do it.

Take the garlic head and peel off the other layer to reveal the cloves within.

Chop off about a centimeter  from the top of each, just exposing the garlic within. Pour some olive all over and then wrap in foil.

Throw this into the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes or if you feel through the foil that the garlic is soft. When, they are unwrapped, the garlic can be squeezed right out of their skins.  What I found amazing was how fragrant the garlic was and sweet.  It was like the garlic and oil had almost caramelized.  I made a paste and had to quickly hide it away.  I was eating it straight from the container!

Stay tuned to see how I use these ingredients in my bigger project tomorrow.  I have quite the vision in my head right now.  I hope I can make it come to life. =)