How To Make And Bake Focaccia Bread Wedges

February 13th, 2011

There are many popular ways to bake and present focaccia bread. With so many possible recipes and so many types and flavors, it’s not a surprise that loaves range from the ancient, traditional flattened disk to almost cakelike sheet pans in large rectangles. Here are a few steps on how to make focaccia bread wedges.

Wedge-shaped mini-loaves of focaccia may not be traditional, but offer a sensible individual-sized serving in a shape we’re already familiar with from giant scones found in coffee houses and markets. There are two approaches to making wedge focaccia, one slightly challenging but extremely nice if you have a very soft, slightly runny focaccia bread recipe: not quite a batter, but not as firm as most focaccia dough.

For this type of dough you can bake the focaccia in a classic wedged cornbread pan. Coat the pan with olive oil, then dust the pan with a light coating of corn meal. Pull sufficient dough to just barely fill a wedge from the main mass of dough. Pat it into a wedge of the pan, allowing the dough to flow and settle. Repeat until the pan is full.

Be extremely careful baking this focaccia. Black cast iron holds heat very well, even after the bread is taken from the oven. Lower the cooking heat by 25 degrees and reduce cooking time, testing regularly as the bread bakes. Watch the bread carefully as it cooks, and remove it as soon as the surface is firm and dry, and turns tawny and golden.

Other people have worked out how to make focaccia bread in a wedge shape using a more basic approach. Focaccia bread is usually shaped in a flat disk. To make wedge-shaped focaccia make the disk on a board well-dusted with cornmeal so the dough won’t stick. Then cut the dough into quarters, and then eighths, using a chef’s knife wiped with olive oil. Slide the wedges onto a flat baking sheet, and proceed to bake according to directions. Again, lower the temperature and keeping close watch on the smaller portions.

How to Heat Focaccia Bread in the Oven to Get the Best Taste

February 6th, 2011

Focaccia bread, like many hand-crafted breads, is at its very best fresh from the oven, or eaten soon after. Depending on the focaccia bread recipe, these simple loaves can be temperamental, moving quickly from tender, flavorful flexibility to gritty, crumbly waste unless you remember that focaccia responds brilliantly to reheating and refreshing.

Reheated focaccia bread, while not quite as wonderful as fresh, comes in a very close second. Reheating is simple, too, and often makes good use of an already hot oven when you’re cooking other foods.

For the most reliable results, follow these instructions. Do not use the microwave: unless done with extreme attention and care, a microwave more often dries out and overheats day-old bread, rather than refreshing the crust and crumb. Instead prepare a moderate oven: heat the oven to 350 degrees, although there is room for a wider range of temperatures as long as you watch the bread carefully.

Spray the focaccia bread crust lightly with water, then slide into a paper bag or wrap lightly in an inexpensive, but clean old cotton dish towel. Don’t seal the paper bag or wrap the towel too tightly; try to allow air circulation. Place the wrapped bread in the oven on a center rack. In five minutes check the bread. If the crust is too soft, remove the paper bag or towel and replace in the oven for an additional three minutes.

This treatment should usually bring the focaccia bread back to nearly fresh levels. The crust should be crisp and firm. The inner crumb, which often becomes quite crumbly and gritty when anything less than fresh, regains its former supple, tender crumb. This is thanks to the interaction of heat and moisture on the gluten of the bread. The interior is gently moistened with steam, the exterior revived through evaporation, leaving a classic crust. The flavor of incorporated herbs is revived. While various focaccia bread recipes will respond better to this than others, most will be pleasingly close to their original quality.

Focaccia Bread Nutrition Facts

January 31st, 2011

Should you be worried about focaccia bread calories? Well, that depends entirely on the focaccia bread recipe you use and serving size. However, it’s possible to make an estimate using the base recipe below:

Basic Focaccia Bread Recipe:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour: 2,730 calories
  • One packet or tbsp. granulated dry yeast: 35 calories
  • 1/2 cup 110-degree water for proofing the yeast: 0 calories
  • 1 tsp sugar: 15 calories
  • 1 cup water: 0 calories
  • 1/3 cup olive oil + 1 tbsp for brushing top: 756 calories
  • Kosher salt: 0 calories

Recipe total: 3,536 calories per loaf

If you choose to cut the loaf into eight servings then the average serving will contain 442 calories, without taking such things as butter, olive oil for dipping or other additions into account.

Many variations on the basic recipe will be more caloric. Cheese, for example, is a high-calorie addition to a recipe. A half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese will contain an extra 216 calories. Herbs, on the other hand, are very low in calories that there’s no practical caloric difference between a plain focaccia and one with herbs.

There’s more to consider in making focaccia than simple calories, however. Focaccia is a basic bread, low in sugar and salt, with no oil but heart-healthy olive oil. By using a whole-wheat flour you can increase the fiber content in your diet substantially; though in many instances whole-wheat focaccia will be improved by replacing only half the white flour with whole-wheat or by supplementing the whole-wheat with a portion of high-gluten flour in proportions recommended by the suppliers.

When you consider that grains and vegetables are supposed to make up the better part of a healthy diet, the caloric count of a serving of focaccia bread recipe seems modest. For thousands of years bread has been considered “the staff of life.” Balanced with fresh fruits and vegetables, and augmented with a lean meat or other protein source, focaccia bread calories can only be reckoned as a sensible portion of overall dietary intake.

Focaccia Bread – A Brief History

January 25th, 2011

Focaccia bread is a member of a family of common Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern flat breads. Ranging from chapattis, tortillas, and pita, to the beloved Italian-American version of pizza, these breads grew out a common heritage of bread making that developed in the earliest ages of civilization.

Bread was first made in Mesopotamia. The simplest form of bread is a blend of water and ground wheat cooked on the hot stones of a fire pit or on the ashy embers that remain after a fire has burned low. These old breads survive as vital elements in many cuisines around the world, commonly used for wraps, dipping scoops, and foundations for other dishes.

The development of yeast was a natural extension of bread-making. Over time, as cooks learned to enjoy and then promote and preserve yeast cultures, yeasted breads became the standard by which most people judge all breads. Yeast breads were often no more than a flat disk tossed on the hearth, on the floor of an oven, or slapped onto the side wall of a cooking stove. The very name focaccia comes from the Latin term “panis focacius.” That translates as “hearth bread,” implying a comforting loaf from the home kitchen: something a busy mother could toss together while cooking the family meal.

In Italy, France, and Spain, focaccia has taken forms far beyond that core notion of a simple, round home loaf. Holiday focaccia rounds made for Christmas Eve can include many rich additions that they seem more in the spirit of flat panettone or sweet challah, rather than the rougher and far plainer versions Americans associate with the name.

The fundamental idea of a quickly made, casual bread type remains at the heart of modern American versions of focaccia, developed from old Italian traditions. Whether the loaf is a soft, easily tossed-off round bread with a cakey crumb and plenty of enriching olive oil, or a less rich, chewy version made with pizza dough, focaccia bread is rightly seen as hearty, flavorful, and simple: the perfect accompaniment to stews, roasts, salads, and more.

Focaccia Restaurants To Try

January 18th, 2011

Focaccia has become sufficiently popular that finding a focaccia restaurant with good focaccia sandwiches is often no more challenging than searching local establishments. Because the bread is basic, and the recipes so varied as to leave room for plenty of exploration, there’s a version to suit nearly every customer.

Finding a good focaccia restaurant in your region is a great excuse for meals out for weeks. Here are three examples of great focaccia restaurants with focaccia sandwiches as highlights on their menus.

Focaccia Café and Bakery in San Francisco

Focaccia Café and Bakery, located at 119 Sacramento Street in San Francisco, CA was a nominee for the 2010 Best Sandwich Shop in the Best of the Bay List. The menu is far more extensive than that of a simple sandwich shop, and offers breakfast foods, and many choices of bread beyond focaccia, including bagels, sourdough, and rolls.

La Focaccia in New York

La Focaccia, at 51 Bank Street in New York, NY is a popular Italian focaccia restaurant in the West Village offering a wide array of Italian cooking. Known for its atmosphere and fine cooking, guests can expect a choice between classic pasta dishes, traditional entrees, and dishes from the grill. The lunch menu includes an array of hot focaccia sandwiches, and cold sandwiches on ciabatta rolls. There is a traditional focaccia and cheese pie. Offering good value for the money, customers can expect to pay anything from $25 for a full lunch to $150 for a full dinner with extras. The range of choices is wide and the customer can control costs with careful choices.

Focaccia Sandwiches at Pizza New, Minneapolis,MN

Pizza Nea, at 306 East Hennepin, Minneapolis, MN is a pizza place offering traditional Italian antipasto, salads, red and white pizzas, and an entire set of focaccia sandwiches. It carries a 91 percent rating with Urban Spoon. Prices are in the $15 to $30 range, with lots of control possible.

These are just three samples chosen from the hundreds available across the country. Do a web search to find great focaccia restaurants near you. With focaccia becoming more and more popular there are few chains that fail to offer an acceptable focaccia sandwich.

3 Popular Focaccia Sandwiches

January 9th, 2011

Focaccia bread is marvelously adapted to making fabulous focaccia sandwiches. This simple bread, can be prepared as an accompaniment to a main entrée or is equally suited to focaccia sandwich lunches the next day.

Focaccia is great with strong, simple flavors.

Three popular focaccia sandwiches are:

  • turkey and Gruyere cheese melt
  • roast beef with horseradish mayonnaise
  • tomato, basil and hummus with ajvar spread.

These three focaccia sandwiches will carry you from the most comforting basics to the intrigue of good vegetarian cooking, all using easily found ingredients.

Turkey and Gruyere Focaccia sandwich

For the turkey and Gruyere sandwich, you’ll need four ounces of sliced roast turkey breast, two slices of Gruyere cheese, a crisp leaf of romaine lettuce, a slice of tomato, and two tablespoons of mayonnaise, along with a wedge or square of focaccia. Split the focaccia and spread the bottom piece with mayonnaise. Add turkey and the Gruyere to the bottom side, with the Gruyere on top. Put both the bottom side and the top on a flame-proof plate or baking tray, and place under a broiler or in a toaster oven. Toast until the cheese begins to melt and bubble. Remove the sandwich, add tomato and lettuce, and serve.

Roast Beef Foccacia Sandwich

The roast beef sandwich is also simple: a pure, enjoyable sandwich with no frills. Again, split a sandwich-sized piece of focaccia and spread it with prepared horseradish mayonnaise. When the spread has been added, pile high with eight ounces of thin-sliced rare roast beef, and top with a lettuce leaf before serving.

Tomato, Basil And Hummus With Ajvar Spread

The final focaccia sandwich is a vegetarian delight. Spread split, toasted focaccia with hummus spread on one side and ajvar spread on the other. Ajvar is a roasted red pepper sauce found in many ordinary supermarkets these days: mild, sweet and savory, it contrasts nicely with nutty hummus. Add a thick slice of beefsteak tomato and one or two fresh basil leaves. A drizzle of olive oil can finish this wholesome preparation.

With easy recipes like these for yummy and healthy tasty focaccia sandwiches, who could resist. Go ahead; go make yourself a delectable focaccia sandwich.

Focaccia Bread Recipes 3 Popular Choices

October 30th, 2010

Focaccia recipes are simple, as you would expect from a basic home-style bread. The base recipe seldom includes more than flour, salt, water, yeast, a small amount of sugar and olive oil. One basic representative of focaccia bread recipes can be found elsewhere on this site.

You can vary the base recipe to produce other versions of focaccia bread. Herb focaccia bread can be made by adding herbs to taste during the mixing stage. A suggested blend, popular with many, would be a mix of 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary or fresh oregano. These would be tossed together, reserving a few tablespoons to be sprinkled on the top of the loaf after shaping but before drizzling with olive oil.

Another variant is cheese focaccia. This offers a wide range of possibilities, from a very Italian loaf made with parmesan and mozzarella, to an all-American cheddar focaccia. This focaccia recipe is simple: a 1/2 cup of coarsely grated cheese kneaded very lightly into the dough just before shaping the loaf, and a 1/4 cup more added as a topper, replacing the olive oil. The Italian version would use the parmesan in the dough and mozzarella as the sprinkler. The cheddar version would use a total of 3/4 cup cheddar split between the dough and the topping. A useful trick to intensify cheese flavor is to add several drops of pepper sauce, such as Tabasco or Sriracha, to the liquids in a recipe. However, if you use this trick be sure to wash your hands very well after kneading.

An olive focaccia recipe presents many options for variation. Whether you choose black or green, kalamata or garlic, there’s plenty of room to play. One cup of coarsely chopped, well-drained olives kneaded in right before shaping the loaf will result in a hearty bread jammed with tasty olive chunks. If you feel bold, you can experiment with artisan olive oil pressings in the dough, matching the olive oil to the flavor of your chosen olives. All three of these focaccia bread recipes are easy to make.

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