Tuesday, January 24, 2012


This post was actually supposed to happen yesterday.  But when I checked my biga yesterday, it was still the same lump of dough that hadn't risen one bit.  I couldn't figure out why.  I double checked my recipe conversions - they were spot on.  The only thing I could think of was perhaps it was the flour.  So for my second biga, I used some bread flour instead of the Italian 00 flour.  I peeked at it throughout the day yesterday check its progress.  It was working.  Sigh of relief.

ready to go into the oven
Although the recipe says the biga needs to ferment at least 18 hours, that doesn't have to be to the minute or even to the hour.  Mine went closer to 24 hours just because of the time I started it.  I don't mind getting up early, but I wasn't interested in getting up at 3:30 a.m. to start bread when I hadn't gone to bed until midnight.

Overall this is a relatively simple recipe and it doesn't require much in the way of special equipment, other than a scale as the recipe is by weight and not volume.  Since a lot of scales use 1/8 ounce increments instead of 1/10, I've also included gram weights as most scales usually have both standard and metric. 
fresh from the oven
I bake my focaccia in 10-inch round cake pans just because I like the shape.  (I may try a heart shaped pan for Valentine's Day.  Cheesy, I know, but Valentine's Day can be kind of cheesy in general.)  You can also just shape the dough on baking sheets.  It is a slack dough, however, so if you make two loaves instead of one large one, be sure to leave room in between. 

The next project will be ciabatta, but I'm also following along with Tea & Cookies Cooking Challenge of sourdough bread from homemade starter.

There are going to be a whole lotta carbs going on in this house!

6.6 oz (188g) bread flour
3.6 oz (103g) water
1/16 tsp instant dry yeast

Mix the biga 18 hours in advance in a large container and allow to ferment.  It will be like a stiff dough.  Make sure that all of the flour is moistened.

15 oz (424g) water
All of the biga
1.6 oz (47g) olive oil
1 lb, 5 oz (594g) Italian 00 flour or bread flour
0.1 oz (3g) instant dry yeast
0.5 oz (14g) salt
sea salt as needed
extra olive oil for containers and pans

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the water.  Tear the biga into small pieces and add to the bowl.  Mix on low speed (2 on a KitchenAid) for two minutes to break up the biga.
Add the olive oil, bread flour, yeast and salt.  Mix on low speed for four minutes; then on medium (4 on a KitchenAid) for two minutes.
Scrape the dough out into an oiled container at least twice the volume of the dough.  Cover loosely with a lid or plastic wrap and ferment (let rise) for 45 minutes.
Fold the dough on to itself and ferment 10 more minutes.
Scale the dough into 1-1/2 pound portions if making two loaves.
Place into oiled 10” round pans or on an oiled, rimmed baking sheet. 
Cover and ferment 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 475°F.  Gently spread the dough if necessary.  Ferment 45 minutes.
Dip your fingers in olive oil and stipple the focaccia rounds.  Add sea salt and as desired.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Remove from the pans to a wire rack and cool completely.

read to EAT!!

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