Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Making Focaccia Genovese at Home

Focaccia always seems so expensive in the shops so I always try and make it at home. I have a quick focaccia recipe, inspired by Lorraine Pascal, which always goes down well. However, my favourite is a traditional focaccia genovese. This needs overnight proving but the result is worthwhile.

This classic focaccia is made wth soft wheat flour,  mixed long and well, with yeast, oil, water and salt.

It is left to rise and then stretched out by hand onto baking sheets, greased with an emulsion of oil. The focaccia is cooked in the one for about 20 minutes at medium-high heat.

I used 00 type flour which is finally milled and had a protein rating of 14%. The only 00 flour I could find locally was labelled as '00 grade pasta' flour although I feel this is a marketing label as most people tend to buy 00 flour for making pasta. I've also used Canadian Manitoba flour and to be honest I was hard pressed to notice any great difference.

This focaccia uses a biga which is left over night and for at least 16 hours. The biga is there to assist fermentation and helps add flavour. I've also used a little dried yeast although a better flavour would develop if no yeast was used and the fermentation was over a longer period. The Biga should have tiny champagne type bubbles when it is ready to be used.

This recipe makes 2 large focaccia.  Halve the measurements to make one focaccia.

640g 00 flour
640g water (16-22c)
0.25g dried yeast

960g 00 flour
512g water (16-22C)
5g dried yeast
96g Olive oil
32g Salt

Make the biga in a large rectangular tray by mixing the ingredients and leave covered for at least 16 hours in a warm place (between 16-22C). The biga should show clear signs of fermentation with champagne type bubbles clearly visible.

Mix half of the dough water to the biga and incorporate with your hands. Add this mixture to a large stand mixer bowl and start on slow speed (If using ingredients above then divide into two as the volume will be too large for a normal domestic mixer). Add rest of ingredients apart from the olive oil. As everything comes together add rest of the water. Add the Oilve oil during the last minute of mixing. The mixed dough should be stretchy and easily handled.

Tip the dough onto an oiled rectangular tray and rest for one and a half hours.

Fold the dough in on itself (East-West-North-South) and invert.

Sieve flour on top of dough and on workbench.  Invert dough onto bench and sieve flour on top of dough.

Push dough out into rectangle. Cut into two pieces (about 1.8kg each).

Shape by folding the two sides into the centre and press down. Fold furthest side to nearest side and press down. Invert dough. It should now be a slipper shape as per Ciabatta.

Oil parchment lined baking tray and your hands.

Pick up the dough and place onto oiled tray. Cover with oil and gently rub all over top.  Spread out dough gently with hands and leave for 30 minutes.

Spread out dough into rectangle on tray with hands. Use finger docking technique (press fingers gently into dough t create dimples) and let rest for 30 minutes.

Add toppings at this stage. I used crushed tomatoes and sea salt on one side. The other side was sliced red onion, grated parmesan cheese and rosemary.

Heat oven to 200C and bake for about 20 minutes until the toppings have started to brown.

This focaccia is wonderful out of the oven but is also great cold.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

How to make Bagels at Home

Beigel Bake - this is where I started my love affair with Bagels!  I have to thank an old girlfriend for taking me there in London's Brick Lane.  This is a shop once found never forgotten. On a late Saturday night you could buy a Sunday paper and go home with a lovely warm salt beef bagel and tea. You would find all manner of people queuing for their bagels and bread at this 24 hour shop. I used to drive over to this shop from Crouch End in the evening and return with a few dozen of their freshly baked Jewish style bagels.

London is no longer my home and I have to satisfy my desire with Costco and their 12 bagels for £2.99. Not as much fun as Brick Lane but they do a passable Jewish bagel and thats the important thing. Their plain is my favourite although Sesame seed is a close second!

However, I wanted to be able to bake at home as I do for sourdough, ciabatta and focaccia. There are numerous recipes but the one I've settled on is based on one from Chocolate and Zucchini which itself is based on Peter Reinhart.

These recipes use a sponge and a dough and require an overnight prove to develop flavour. This is great for me s it spreads the workload over two days. These ingredients will make 8 medium bagels.

180g flour
1/4 tsp dried yeast
220g water
140g Levian

240g white flour
6g salt
1/4 tsp dried yeast
1 1/2 tsp malt powder

Combine sponge ingredients and let stand for two hours.

Add Sponge and all dough ingredients to a stand mixer bowl. Stir to combine.

Run the mixer for about 8 mins at a medium speed.

The dough should be smooth and pliable but not dry.

Move contents to a bowl, cover with cling film and let stand for one hour.

Put into fridge overnight.

Remove the dough from the fridge and leave for one hour to get to room temperature.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces (approximately 100g each).

Shape each portion into balls and make hole in middle of each, Slightly flatten with palm of hand to a recognisable 'bagel' shape.

Rest on oiled parchment for 15 minutes. Heat oven to 260C.

Add 1 Tbs baking soda to a large pan of boiling water. Cook each bagel for one minute each side (I do two or three bagels at a time).

Rest boiled bagels on separate oiled parchment.

At this point you can dip the bagels in any seeds if you are coating them (e.g., poppy or sesame).

Place bagels on baking sheet and cook in oven for 5 minutes. Turn oven down to 230C and bake for another 5 minutes.

Cool for 30 minutes and then they are ready to eat.

The crumb structure should be similar to sourdough bread with a chewy texture.

There are plenty of bagel recipes out there such as this Jewish oneanother New York style one,  a summary of different ones,  and finally one from the fabulous FreshLoaf site.