nancy silverton’s focaccia – thoughts timelined

Wednesday, 6:30 am - Woke up and remembered I need to bring the snacks for Friday morning conference.  Going to have to think of something good. I’ve been going out and buying snacks too much.  Getting lazy.  It’ll be rosh hashanah so I could make a honey cake.  There was that recipe from  smitten kitchen that I wanted to try.  But cake seems like it’s too easy to make these days.  Everybody does cake.  I need something with a little oomph.  Oomph is fun to say.  Note to self, use ‘oomph’ more.

Wednesday 3:30 pm – Getting hungry again.  Lunch was unsatisfying.  I want some bread.  Reminds me I still have to decide what to make for Friday.  Bread might be a good idea.  Savory breakfast items have been more popular lately.  But everyone is watching their weight.  I hate that.  Although, I should lose 5 lbs before that wedding during Christmas.  I’ll just eat one less slice of cake, but not right now; I need cake now.

Wednesday, 7:45 pm - Focaccia.  That’s what I’m going to make.  It’s decided.  Been wanting to make the Nancy Silverton recipe from the LA Times forever.  Looks like it’ll be a challenge to get done.    Doesn’t matter.  Winning is important.  Bringing food for Friday is brutal competition.  Sure. No one else is competing, but still.

Thursday, 7:30 am – Running a little late today.  Baby wouldn’t sleep after his 5:30 am feed. Got to make this sponge before heading to work.

Thursday, 7:45 pm - Grace is feeding the baby.  Better prep for making the focaccia.  May be I should make the honey cake.  Just in case this focaccia doesn’t work out.  Fine.  I’ll prep for that too.  I’ll just measure everything out so that it’s ready to go tomorrow morning.

Friday, 3:00 am -   Baby fed well and went back to sleep.  Now I can start the focaccia and get it started for the first rise.  The sponge looks nice and bubbly.  Fudgesicle! I never bought rye flour.  I wonder how important it is.  Should I just add in more bread flour?  May be I’ll substitute semolina.  I don’t think it’ll do anything, but it might add a little something. Hope having the mixer going doesn’t wake up Grace or the baby.

Friday, 5:30 am – Nap was helpful.  Have to set the oven and get the honey cake in.  Then turn the dough and let it proof again… and shower and get ready for work.

Friday, 6:45 am - Honey cake is out and looks edible, so I’m at least safe if this focaccia doesn’t work out.  Dough looks likes it’s doubled again so I can get them into the pans.  No 10 inch pans, so will have to go with the 9 inch cake pans.   Substituting out the sage in Silverton’s original onion focaccia recipe for thyme since that’s what I have outside.

Friday, 7:07 am - No time to let the focaccia rest again.  Got to get them into the oven and hope for the best.

Friday, 7:47 am – Both loaves are out just in time for a quick cool.  Good thing it’s Friday and things start a little later.

Friday, 9:35 am – Moment of truth.  Totally worth it.

Onion Thyme Focaccia
Adapted from Nancy Silverton via LA Times

Focaccia sponge

  • ~1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • ½ cup water
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons bread flour
  1. In a small mixing bowl, add yeast to water. Set the bowl aside for a few minutes for yeast to dissolve. Stir in the bread flour until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined
  2. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside at room temperature until the sponge becomes bubbly and thick (~12 to 24 hours).

Focaccia

  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
  • ~1/2 cup plus olive oil, divided
  • Focaccia sponge
  • 1¾ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon semolina
  • 3 1/3 bread flour, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into generous ½-inch cubes
  • 1/2 large cubed onion, cut into slices
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • ½ teaspoon flake sea salt
  1. Add water, tablespoon olive oil and sponge in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and, over low speed, add the yeast, semolina flour and 3 1/3 cups bread flour. Mix the ingredients over low speed for 2 minutes to thoroughly combine and form the dough.
  2. With the mixer running, slowly add the salt, then increase the speed to medium. Continue mixing the dough until it is smooth and well-formed, and starts to pull away from the bowl (6 to 8 minutes). More bread flour can be added if the dough is too sticky (a spoonful as needed at a time).
  3. Grease a bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size with olive oil. When the dough is ready, turn it out of the mixer into the oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  For a tighter seal,  tie kitchen twine or another piece of plastic wrap around the outside of the bowl. Set the dough aside at room temperature until doubled (~1½ hours).
  4. Dust work surface lightly with flour and turn the dough out onto the surface. Acting as if the round has four sides, fold the edges of the dough toward the center. Turn the dough over and return it, folded side down, to the bowl. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and set it aside at room temperature until it has doubled in volume (50 minutes - 1 hour).
  5. Pour ¼ cup olive oil into each of the cake pans and coat evenly. Dust the work surface again with flour and carefully turn the dough out, taking care not to deflate the dough in the process. Divide the dough into two equal segments. Place the dough segments in the prepared cake pans and very gently pull the edges just to obtain a roughly round shape. Cover the pans with a clean dishcloth and set aside at room temperature until relaxed (~30 minutes).
  6. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the dishcloth from the top of one of the focaccias and, gently nudge the dough outward toward the edge of the pan a few times. 
  7. Add the mozzarella cubes into the focaccia dough one at a time while simultaneously pushing outward to encourage the dough toward the edge of the pan.  Arrange the cubes evenly over the surface of the dough and pressing them so deep deep into the dough.  Similarly add the the onions.
  8. Brush the surface generously with olive oil, then sprinkle over the thyme and sea salt. Set the focaccia aside until it has risen and puffed around the toppings (~15-30 minutes).
  9. Place the focaccia on the center rack of the oven and bake until crisp and golden-brown (30 - 40 minutes).
  10. Move the pan to the bottom of the oven to crisp the bottom crust (~5 minutes).
  11. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the focaccia from the pan to a wire rack. Brush the surface of the focaccia once more with olive oil. Set the focaccia aside to cool slightly for as long as you can.

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Comments
5 Responses to “nancy silverton’s focaccia – thoughts timelined”
  1. drwisconsin says:

    Wow, 3am? That is early… however, it was absolutely amazing. I think this is what good foccacia is supposed to taste like. I can still remember how good the aroma was in the conference room, the nice olive oil taste… and my personal favorite: how perfectly crunchy the crust was. Ace in the hole, my friend. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks. The recipe makes 2 loaves and I left 1 at home.

      Grace said: “I had the focaccia for lunch. It was really good, but isn’t focaccia like the fattiest bread ever?”
      E (who takes care of baby) said: “It reminded me of the bread from restaurant X, but chewier.”

      Guess which one I was proud of and which one just about killed me.

  2. Lillie says:

    So, you won? :) This seems like something I could take the time for while on leave…I might have to give it a go!

    How was the honey cake? I always love the idea of her recipes but don’t often make them.

  3. Danny says:

    Oh seriously, it’s like the fattiest bread ever. haha, that’s the bestest.

    also, croissant man. show me how to do it please.

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