Friday, March 5, 2010

PIZZA STYLE FOCACCIA BREAD - Bread Baker's Apprentice

OK, the challenge continues. I will be trying new island recipes, and new ingredients when possible, but also I plan to continue my progression as a learning cook. I promised myself on New Year's Eve that I would be trying to learn more as a bread baker, and if possible to cook through the "Bread Baker's Apprentice - Mastering the art of Extraordinary Bread" book. I brought three cookbooks with me to my island adventure. The "Bread Baker's Apprentice" book was one. It is now week two of my island adventure, and here is week two of my bread baking experience.

As most of the recipes in the book are, this is a two day effort, with an overnight "proofing" of the dough.  It just takes a little planning.  Starting this week, I move to a bigger kitchen, but I also will be working VERY hard on my menu planning skills.  It is the single best way to get a handle on the costs of feeding the two of us, and "planning ahead" is now my middle name (well... middle phrase).  It is not hard, just takes a little thought.

The actual bread is very easy, and only takes a few ingredients, usually on hand.  The toppings can be "clean out your refrigerator" efforts, or well planned for something extra special!

Here we go...

5 cups Bread Flour (this recipe makes 4 breads (pizzas).  They freeze easy.  I made two, and will make two more over the weekend.
 2 teaspoons Salt
1 package Yeast
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cups room temperature Water

The fun comes when you use the toppings...  Your pick, here's what I used...

Provolone Cheese
Carmelized Onions

Here's what I did...
  • Stir together the flour, salt and yeast.
  • Add the oil and water
  • mix, mix, mix... Would be easiest with a dough hook and a Kitchenaid, but such is not my lot in life.  You could use a metal spoon, but I like to get my hands dirty... Hands work best.
  • Continue to mix until you can .  Pull the dough and it pulls free from the side of the bowl, but sticks to the bottom.  Dough will be soft and sticky.
  • sprinkle a 6 inch square of flour on your counter, transfer the sticky dough and dust the top.  Wait 5 minutes for the dough to relax.
  • Coat your hands with flour and stretch the dough into a rectangle.  Fold up in thirds.  Mist with spray oil, dust with flour and cover and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, repeat the stretch/fold and mist step
  • After a second 30 minutes, repeat the stretch/fold and mist step for the last time.
  • Now, we are done for the day, except to divide the dough.  Depending on the thickness you would like, as well as the quantity of final product you need to feed your family, divide the dough into half for 4 or more people, quarters for a couple and 6-8 equal size units if you would like single servings.  These would be great for individual pizzas.
  • spray the dough with oil, as well as the inside of plastic bags, but the dough balls into the individual bags and freeze if you will be using them in a week or more, or refrigerate if you are making these within the next 3-4 days.

And now, next day, comes the fun... But first, remove the dough from the fridge and allow three hours for final proofing and for the dough to reach room temperatures.
  • Spread the dough into desired shape (circle or rectangle).  If the dough is springy, mist with oil and cover for 15 minutes to allow it to rest.
  • Line a pan with parchment paper and mist the paper with spray oil.
  • transfer the dough onto the paper
  • Add your toppings... I caramelized some Onions in butter, and allowed them to cool
  • Minced Garlic
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Walnuts
  • Provolone Cheese
  • Red Pepper Rings
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary Herbs

  • Proof for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Preheat oven to 550 degrees, up to 600 degrees.
  • 10 to 12 minutes in the HOT oven and bingo bango bongo...
Tastes just as good as it looks!

Sounds like a lot of steps, but really, 1 minute of work, and then go about your business til the next step starts... Not a great deal of hands on work... And without a doubt, worth every extra step!  


  1. I am always amazed at how RED is always the dominant color over here - green background - red text - red photos - its like the meat department at the grocery store...good looking pizza.

  2. The focaccia looks delicious and do the pics on the other blog

  3. A big old piece of that would be great right about now.

  4. So worth it in terms of taste, but most of the time I lack the patience!

  5. Looks fantastic, I love focaccia.

  6. Oh, I love, love, love focaccia! It looks delicious and I wish I had a bite!

  7. Well, you stopped visiting, so I must do the same..Have a good time in the tropics..

  8. Looks good... I love focaccia!

  9. this looks wonderful!!! i cant wait to start grilling again so I make pizza on the grill

  10. You are just going to town with your bread baker's apprentice challenge. I'm impressed! Your focaccia looks fantastic.

  11. Pizza looks great! Focaccia is my all-time favorite bread.

  12. This looks delicious...I may just have to buy the book too. I used to make bread, but have let that slide the last few years. You have inspired me Dave!

  13. One of these days, I'm going to make good on my promise and bake some bread. Until then, I'll just look at yours;)

  14. Oh, I wish I had the patience because this looks out of this world good. Considering it makes FOUR loaves though....hmmm..the outcome definitely is worth the effort, I'd say. Well done, Dave!! Kudos.