Over the Memorial Day holiday weekend I made the whole wheat focaccia from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The recipe calls for dried cherries soaked in red wine and shallots. Since we were having grilled Italian sausages that night, I decided use the same red wine-soaking method but with thick-sliced Kalamata olives and shallots> I also added some fresh, chopped rosemary from my garden. You can see the pretty red color that the shallots took on from the wine.
The traditional method of poking your finger in the dough to make deep dimples was used and then the strained olives, shallots and rosemary were sprinkled over the top of the dough followed by a good drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper. There was only a 20 minute rest before this bread went into the oven on a cookie sheet placed on the hot baking stone.
It turned out beautifully and tasted fantastic with our holiday weekend al fresco dinner! This bread is best served warm so I gently re-heated it on the grill just before we sat down to eat. YUM!
Adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Makes enough dough for at least four 1-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.
5½ c (1 lb, 9 oz) whole wheat flour
2 c (10 oz) all-purpose flour, unbleached
1½ tbsp (.55 oz) granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 tbsp (.55 oz) Kosher salt
¼ c ( 1 3/8 oz) vital wheat gluten
4 c (2 lbs) lukewarm water
Seeds for sprinkling over loaf, if desired
cornmeal or parchment paper for the pizza peel or flat baking sheet
Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded plastic food container or food-grade bucket (not airtight).
Warm the water until it feels slightly warmer than body temperature (about 100°F). Add all at once to the dry ingredients and mix without kneading, using a spoon, or a heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle). You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine. Do not knead.
Cover the dough with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container. If you are using a bowl, cover it loosely with plastic wrap or a lidded (or even vented) plastic buckets designed for dough storage. Leave it open a crack for the first 48 hours to prevent buildup of gases; after that you can usually seal it. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2-4 hours, depending on the room’s temperature and the water temperature added to the flour. After rising, refrigerate in the lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work after 24 hours in the refrigerator than dough at room temperature.
On baking day, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal (or line a flat baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. Dust the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife or kitchen shears. Holding the dough in your hands, add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating a quarter-turn as you go to form a ball. The entire process should take no more than 20 to 40 seconds. If you work the dough longer than this, it might make your loaf dense.
Form a narrow oval-shaped loaf and let it rest: Stretch the ball gently to elongate it, and taper the ends by rolling them between your palms and pinching them.
Allow the loaf to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, on the prepared pizza peel or baking sheet for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough). Depending on the age of the dough, you might not see much rise during this period; instead, it will spread sideways. Rise will occur during baking.
Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty metal tray for holding water on the rack underneath.
Just before baking, use a pastry brush to paint the top of the loaf with water. Sprinkle with any seed mixture you desire. Slash the loaf with ¼-inch-deep parallel cuts across the top on an angle with a serrated knife.
After a 30-minute preheat, you’re ready to bake, even though your oven thermometer might not yet be up to full temperature.With a quick forward-jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone.
Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is richly browned and firm to the touch (smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in resting and baking time). If you used parchment paper, a silicone mat, or a cookie sheet under the loaf, carefully turn the loaf over to brown the bottom of the loaf after 20 minute through baking.
Cool loaf on a baking rack before slicing.
Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days.
For the Olive and Shallot Foccacia
1/2 cup sliced kalamata olives
1/4 cup sliced shallots
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Olive Oil for drizzling
Coarse Sea Salt and and Black Pepper for sprinkling
Place all of the above ingredients in a bowl and stir to blend.
Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat baking sheet.
Cut off a grapefruit-size portion of the Master Recipe above and quickly shape it into a bowl, adding flour to your hands. Pull the sides down to the underside in quarter turn motion, making a ball. Place the ball on the prepared baking sheet. Pat the dough into a rectangle or roll it with a rolling pin to 1/3-3/4 inch thickness. Press your fingers into the dough making 'dimples'. Allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty metal tray for holding water on the rack underneath.
Drain the olives and shallots and dry with paper toweling. Spread over the dough and press in. Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with sea salt and ground black pepper.
Slide the dough onto the preheated baking stone and quickly add 1 cup of hot water to the baking pan below and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Remove and cut into wedges and serve warm.