Sunday, June 1, 2014

Focaccia Caprese - We Knead to Bake 13

Baking with a group of people is fun, even though virtually. It gets better if you have a mentor who chooses the bread, experiments with the recipe and hands you a fool proof one to try. That is what the We Knead to Bake group is doing. Seeing many posts every month, there were many people who showed interest to join the group and now we are over 200 members in the group.

Sometime in November last year, Aparna conducted a poll on which breads we might like to bake through the 2014 season of WKtB. On popular demand Focaccia was chosen to be done in January of the new year. I had travelled home and thus could not bake this on time. When I returned and normal routine was in place, I baked the breads that I had missed baking. It took me longer to pen a post and share though. Yet, here I am with this post, done with all those and ready for the next.

Focaccia is a kind of flat bread thought to have originated from ancient Greece but now associated with the North Eastern part of Italy. Mostly, it is a flat bread and a savoury one at that; but there are sweet version, Focaccia Veneta, baked in Veneta during Easter with flour, eggs, butter,sugar, and added flavours.
The name Focaccia originates from the ancient roman word Panis Focacius, that meant a flat bread that was baked on the hearth. Though most commonly and mistakenly it is thought of a square shaped and smaller pizza, they are both distinctly different. More information about this is in Aparna's post here.

Focaccia Caprese is basic focaccia dough topped Caprese style - which means it comes from the Island Capri off the Italian coast, near Naples.The signature is in the tomatoes and the Buffalo Mozzarella.
Now, as I said in an earlier post, I have no clue to find the right cheese and would be happy to just use whatever is familiar. Thus I have used the processed cheese I find in the super marché here, but if you like cheese and can find the right one, please use that. It does not alter the texture of the bread, but the right cheese might give you the best taste.

Focaccia Caprese
Adapted from the Kitchen Whisperer. Find the recipe by clicking here.

Makes two large or four smaller focaccias.

For the Dough:
3 and 1/2 cups bread flour*
2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 and 1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 to 1 and 1/2 cups warm water
A little more olive oil for brushing

For the Topping:
4 to 5 large tomatoes, sliced thin
16 numbers 7" round piece of buffalo mozzarella, cut into1/4" slices**
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

For the herbed oil:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 to 1/2teaspoon red chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon finely minced garlic
Salt to taste

Fresh basil leaves for garnishing

* If you do not get bread flour, you can add 1 tablespoon Vital wheat gluten to 3 and 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and mix well.
   If you do not have Vital Wheat Gluten, just bake with all purpose flour.

** Like I said earlier, I do not find fresh buffalo mozzarella,so I used some processed cheese available. Any melting/stringy kind of cheese will work well in this recipe.

First make the herbed olive oil: place all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together.
Keep aside till required.

Next prepare the dough: This can be done by hand or with the aid of a processor.
place the yeast, sugar, flour, salt, and oil in the bowl of the food processor and pulse a couple of times to mix them well. Add a cup of warm water, adding a little more , as required and knead to get a soft, elastic dough that is short of sticky.
Remove the dough and roll in a ball. Place it in an oiled bowl, turning it to coat the ball in oil on all sides, so the surface does not dry. Cover and keep it to rise to almost double its original volume.This should take about an hour.
I divided the dough into four smaller portions to bake small focaccias. you might opt to do the same or just divide the dough into two and bake largish breads.
This being a rustic bread, you need not worry if the shape does not turn out evenly rectangular.
Line two large baking trays with parchment.
Roll each of the divided dough in a somewhat rectangular shape approximately 7"X 5" (if making 4) or 11"X7" (if making into two).

Transfer the dough to the baking trays. Using your fingers, push out the dough back in shape if it shrinks. Ensure that it is evenly pressed throughout.
Let it rise for about 20 minutes.
Light oil your finger tips and press your finger into the dough all around at intervals creating evenly spaced dimples in the dough.
Brush the surface with a generous amount of oil.

Bake the focaccia in a pre-heated 210 Degrees C(410F) oven for 18 to 20 minutes till it is almost done and is beginning to turn a golden brown.
Take the focaccia out of the oven and increase the oven temperature to 230 Degrees C(450F).
Lightly drizzle some herbed oil over the focaccia, then evenly arrange the sliced cheese over the bread leaving little space between them. Arrange the tomato slices over these and sprinkle chopped basil. Ensure that the topping covers the entire top surface of the bread.

Drizzle more herbed oil over the topping and return the bread to the oven.
Bake the focaccia for 5 to 8 minutes until the cheese has just melted.
Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Cut the focaccia into slices and serve while still hot.

This can serve well for four as a meal or six servings as side.
Get to this post and check out all Focaccia Caprese posts linked therein.


1 comment:

  1. The toppings look so fresh and the focaccia so inviting ! Almost like a bruschetta once it has that second baking/toasting.


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