Rosemary focaccia: uglyducklingbakery bloopers
The uglyducklingbakery “bloopers” series is a collection of stories of recipes gone awry. It sometimes seems that everything is perfect on the internet. In reality, things don’t always go the way we plan, and that’s ok.
I decided to make focaccia for the first time yesterday at mr. uglyducklingbakery’s request. I don’t know why I hadn’t made it before. Most of my yeasted baking (and eating) is in sandwich loaves, so I hesitate to bake bread that isn’t designated for a sandwich.
The first recipe I looked at was from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. A great cookbook but a two-day recipe. I next went to Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. It is because of RLB that I started my love affair with pies. Ok. Her rosemary focaccia sheet says it’s a 5 hour affair.
I probably should have paid closer attention the fact that she calls it an “intriguing dough.” But it was an adaptation from the Sullivan Street Bakery (origin of no-knead bread), so how could it go wrong? Famous last words.
The first step says to mix 13.6 oz unbleached all-purpose flour, 3/8 tsp yeast, and 15.5 oz room temperature water until the dough is transformed from a soupy batter into a “smooth, shiny ball, about 20 minutes.” At 30 minutes, mine was still soupy. At 50 minutes, it had just started to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl. At 65 minutes, I decided that I would give up. It was only at this point that I decided to look online and see if I could find reviews of the recipe.
In situations like this, it’s affirming to find that the discussion is not just reviews and recommendations for RLB’s rosemary focaccia but for The Infamous Focaccia, I felt seen. And continued to mix my batter for another 10 minutes or so while I made lunch.
It ended up ok. Better than mr. uglyducklingbakery’s farro, which never became edible despite an hour on the cooktop. It seems we were both having one of those days.