Monday, April 27, 2015

April Daring Bakers - Focaccia

Whenever the first of the month comes, I get so excited to see what the Daring Baker challenge will be.  However, I also wonder if it will be something that I can make gluten free.  The yeast breads are really difficult to convert, at least in my opinion.  So, when I first saw this past month's challenge, I didn't think it would be great to convert.  However, one of the options was unyeasted. For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch. 

So, this past Saturday, Kate and I had a baking project.  She helped measure the flour and stir...then left the rest to me.  I was happy to have extra dough and actually ended up needing it! I thought I could use parchment paper to roll the dough on;however, it just stuck.  So I had to throw that portion away and use my "extra" to roll out the top dough.  I decided to make Focaccia di Recco.  As I was making it, Kate came up and said "Oooo, pizza!" 
It was close but not quite.  I think David was excited to have a different bread.  He seemed to enjoy it.  I did end up adding some extra liquid as gluten free flour soaks up liquids more than regular wheat flour.  Also, I added sea salt and rosemary to the top of the focaccia to add a little flavor.  It really needs more than a "pinch" of salt for the dough.  All in all, this was a good focaccia.  I would have loved to do one of the yeasted versions, and still may try, but this was a good, quick option that easily translated to gluten free.

Recipe 4: Focaccia di Recco

Servings: 16 pieces
Preparation time: 90 minutes (including resting)
Baking time: 6 minutes
If you can’t get Stracchino (Crescenza), you can use another young, melty cheese – I have used fresh mozzarella with good results.
This recipe will make more dough than you need if you roll it as thinly as is traditionally done, but you can freeze the excess, well wrapped in a ziploc bag, for several months.
3¾ cups (900 ml) (17-2/3 oz) (500 gm) AP gluten free flour mix
pinch course sea salt, plus extra for topping
45ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and topping
1¼ cups (300 ml) water
500 gm (17-2/3 oz) mozzarella cheese
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt and form a well in the middle. Add cold water and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil. Start mixing the dough with a fork, incorporating the flour little by little.

Once the dough has come together, start kneading it with your hands. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth. When the dough is ready, wrap it well with plastic wrap, being sure to expel all the air so your dough doesn’t dry out, and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to very hot 480°F/250°C/gas mark 9.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll each piece out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, trying to keep them as round and as thin as possible. I rolled these ones a little thick, because we find it easier to handle when it’s more sturdy, but traditionally it should be almost transparent.

Grease a medium sized round pizza tray (not the type with holes in it, or you will have a very messy oven) or baking dish with olive oil. Place one layer of dough on the bottom of the dish. Add the cheese in pieces using your hands.  Cover the cheese with the second sheet of dough. Use a knife or a pair of kitchen shears to remove any excess dough from around the edges of the pan. Bake in the centre of a preheated very hot oven for 6 - 8 minutes, until golden. When the focaccia is done, remove it from the oven and let cool enough to be handled.

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