February, 2011

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

How To Make And Bake Focaccia Bread Wedges

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.

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

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

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.


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