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Sourdough Surprises: Focaccia with chilli oil

Monday, January 20, 2014

My leaven turns three on Jan 24. It's made from a recipe by one of my gurus, Dan Lepard, from The Handmade Loaf, a book that has been a great source of reference.

The challenge for Sourdough Surprises this month is focaccia, which was perfect for Dan Lepard's recipe for olive oil flatbread from his book. He also uses a tiny amount of commercial yeast, which I left out, but since I practically followed his recipe word for word, it's not right for me to reproduce it here.

Having said that though, Dan Lepard does say in the intro to his recipe that in Genoa, Italy, the focaccia is "simply made with the house white dough, and it is the shape that defines it."

But what is most important, and what really gives focaccia its character, is this:
"Contemporary artisan bakers work the dough over many hours, so that holes created by the fermenting yeast are stretched and enlarged, giving an exaggerated honeycomb effect."
After the initial proofing, Dan Lepard says to pat out the dough into a rectangle, fold it in thirds, and flip it over. This is done every 40 minutes for two hours. By the end of that time, the dough is airy and light.

Following that, the dough is gently stretched out in a tray, dimpled, spread with whatever topping, and baked. It takes a long time, but it is worth it.
The focaccia could have done with more chilli oil ~ a lot more!
I topped my focaccia with a store-bought chilli oil. But then I left the bread too long in the oven and the top is a little dark.

A few days later, I made a pie with the focaccia dough which Dan Lepard also includes in his book. The dough is divided into two, the bottom layer is spread with the filling (mine was the chilli oil and a combination of fried onions, Turkish cheese and rocket leaves), and topped with the other piece of dough (right).

Here are more focaccia from the baking group.