focaccia revisited

October 27, 2006

bread

There’s a bakery here in Anchorage that does a nice lunch trade with wood-fired pizzas, daily soups, a few sandwiches and wraps. I try to stay away, but they have this focaccia that I can’t stay away from. Slather it with garlic mayonnaise, spread on some sprouts, red onions, and smoked turkey sliced really thin, and I’m yours. Between that bread and Peter Reinhart’s book on the perfect pizza (he has a blog here), I’m giving my mixer a workout. I’m only on my fourth or so loaf (batch? round?) of focaccia bread, but the results are getting better. The last time it was good but it really wasn’t what I was looking for. This time it was closer, this time it actually looked like focaccia instead of a flatbread cooked on a hot rock by campfire. I’ve been following Reinhart’s recipe pretty faithfully, trying to be consistent, and also because I actually have no idea what I’m doing otherwise. Baking is a bit new to me and it’s still hard to resist the urges to mix things together until the look and taste is right. Baking is a science, or at least alchemy, or something like that: you have certain ingredients that are to be put together in fairly exact amounts at certain points in a batch process, and you get a certain product back. Hopefully. One thing that I’m thinking might be more important is weighing ingredients as opposed to measuring. Even though almost all of the recipes I’ve followed give weights as well as volumetric measurements, it would seem that a cup scooped might be a little less accurate than a cup sifted and weighed out exactly. I find that as I’m mixing I keep having to add more flour and then more water to balance things out. The dough is either too sticky or not sticky at all. Another batch, another lesson. Some things I’ve discovered about baking in general:

  • flour makes hardwood floors really slick and easy to moonwalk on
  • the dog does not like flour, but you can put it on her face like it’s a mustache
  • dough does not stick to wet hands
  • dough sticks to everything else
  • dough will eventually go down through the disposal if you use very, very hot water
  • adding dry flour into a mixer needs to be done on the lowest setting. I feel this bears repeating – the lowest possible setting
  • baking soda and baking powder are very different things
  • an apron might be good idea after all
  • sticking a spatula in a moving stand mixer will liven things up considerably
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Nelda November 4, 2006 at

I love the mental picture of your baking experiences. Your discoveries made in the process demonstrate impressive intellectual insight.

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