When I first started making breads, to learn which and which requiring more/fewer proofings wasn't too confusing, but to accomplish a specific one did give me a headache.
During winter the daytime is short and cold. To make some easy buns (with one time proofing only) wasn't that easy though. In order to create an ideal temperature of 25 degrees for proofing, I had tried warming up an oven or placing a big bowl of hot water inside. Everything is do-able, but double the work wasn't fun.
Now I realize that the breads can be coming seasonal, yes, pretty much like fruit, good melon is found in summer and good tangerine in winter. For those easy buns or any others just requiring one quick shot of proofing, I do them in the summer then.
Now is in winter, my house isn't effectively heated, so is always staying cold, around 10 to 15 degrees, which is ideal for proofing various European style of loaves and this foccacia! Their doughs are fermented under a lower temperature for a longer time, some need more than 2 proofings. It could easily be a 2-day work, but in fact I have not much to do except ooh-aahing to see my bread slowly born.
One thing about foccacia, I used to wonder why only this bread has "dimples". After I made it many times, I know the dough generally very high in water content, therefore, it is too sticky and lumpy to shape. The best thing to do is just flopping it into a tray, use our moist fingers to press it flatter until it reaches the corners of the tray, so our fingers leave the dimple marks. Then the last question, to knead such a sticky dough by hand is easy or not? My answer can be yes since the dough is very tender, and can be no as we are very tempted to add too much flour. In the recipe I will share one trick or two on how to avoid the dough sticking to our hands.If you are not making plain foccacia but adding some extra ingredients like mine, you may give extra time to proof the dough Recipe of sun dried tomato, onion & black olive foccacia (yield two 13 x 8-inch-trays, or 16 servings)
- 200 g flour
- 170 ml water
- 5 g fresh yeast
- 820 + 100 g flour
- 20 g fresh yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 20 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 30ml vegetable oil
- 430 ml water, lukewarm
- for flavoring the bread, I used: 10 pcs of sun dried tomato, 3 tsps of black olive paste, 1/4 onion, and 2 tsps of dried oregano
- In a large bowl, stir to combine 200 g flour, 170 ml water and 5 g yeast. Cover, leave it in a very cool place (or the lowest shelf of refrigerator) for half day. It should almost triple to its volume.
- In another very large bowl, use a wooden spoon stir to combine the yeast mixture from point 1, 820 g flour, 20 g yeast, 430 ml water, salt and the two oils. Place the 100 g of flour aside, you'll use it to dust the hands and table during kneading. Turn the dough on the table, knead it about 10 minutes. The dough is very soft and sticky. In order not to be tempted to add excessive flour (more flour, less moist interior of the bread), scrap the work table and your hands clean from time to time, and lightly dust the table and your hands often. Grease a very large bowl and a piece of plastic film, place the dough inside the bowl, cover with the plastic, proof in a cold place for a few hours.
- Soak the dried tomatos until soft, then finely dice them. Dusk the work table, turn the dough out, add in tomato, finely diced onion, olive paste and oregano, knead a few times. Return the dough to the bowl (pre-greased), proof it overnight in the fridge.
- Next morning, turn the dough out and divide into two portions (or any numbers that fit your tray's size). We don't need to knead the dough, in fact, we have to save as many air bubbles as we can. Grease your baking trays, add some fine cornmeal to the bottom as optional, put the dough inside. Dip your finger to the oil, then press the dough until it reachs the corners of the tray (which can't be achieved at once as the dough is still cold and stiff, but just keep doing it every 5 minutes or so, and remember to cover the dough whenever you aren't working on it). Once the dough spreads out to the corners, let it proof until it looks very puffy.
- Bake the bread in (pre-heat) hot oven 180 - 190 degrees for 25 minutes.
- After the foccacia completely cools off, you can cut some up to single serving portions and freeze them for future consumption