Friday, 24 January 2014

Focaccia Caprese | We Knead To Bake | Baking Bread| Vegan | Winner Of December’s ONLY Event


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Hello All!
Here comes the first post of 2014 and I’m amused at myself that I’m starting off with a bread. I have posted an Onion-Rosemary Focaccia earlier and is one of my favourite posts from my blog. I have recently joined a group called ‘We Knead To Bake’, created by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.  When I was thrown to this first challenge of baking Caprese Focaccia by her, I was overwhelmed. My only worry was how to avoid the APF since I’ve been trying to cut down on the it’s use. I initially thought that I would make a whole wheat Focaccia but then I knew it won’t be as soft and spongy so I kept postponing it. The pictures of the bakes posted by others in the group were too tempting and they lured me to finally  bend my rule and I decided to bake this bread only to land up watching smiling faces of the family.
I’ve provided step wise instructions on making this bread here and hence I’m only repeating the important steps in this post but I do want to discuss more about this rustic Italian bread  the name of which has been derived from ‘Panis Focacius’ which means a flat bread baked on the hearth.

Focaccia is of two kinds, salt and sweet. The salt version is also called ‘Schiacciata’ and the sweet version which is an Easter cake from Veneto hence called Focaccia Veneto. The Focaccia Veneto uses butter and sugar instead of olive oil and salt.
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In my previous post on Focaccia, I’ve mentioned that it resembles a Pizza. Let me now explain, in what way it’s different from a Pizza..
Conventionally a pizza is round in shape whereas a Focaccia bread is square in shape. The Pizza has less leavening added to it’s dough as compared to the Focaccia due to which the Pizza dough is more dense as compared to the Focaccia dough. Less leavening of the Pizza dough results in a thin, flat and flexible crust (except the Sicilian Pizza which has more leavening and resembles the Focaccia) whereas the focaccia dough has more capacity to absorb the olive oil (hence thought as an olive oil bread) and hence has a firm crust. Traditionally, Focaccia has the topping ingredient (no mixed topping) and a herb kneaded into the dough while Pizza (mixed toppings) has it on top of the dough. Also, the Focaccia has more amount of salt added to the dough.
Coming back to the Focaccia Caprese….Caprese is a salad made by using Tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese and fresh Basil leaves. Focaccia Caprese is hence the basic Focaccia which has olive oil and herbs with a Caprese topping.The bread and the Caprese topping complement each other.I must confess that I’m in love with the Basil, I simply love the fresh flavour that it adds.The topping adds an amazing flavour to the very soft Focaccia bread, it’s like adding a beautiful tune to a well written lyrics. Since I’m avoiding the use of all purpose flour, I halved the original recipe and made one medium sized Focaccia. For every ones convenience I’m reproducing the recipe as the original one..
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Focaccia Caprese

Preparation Time:10mins| Rising Time: 1.30-2hrs| Baking Time: around 25mins| Makes-2 Focaccia| Serves:8-10| Difficulty Level: Moderate

Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Whisperer

Ingredients

For the Dough:2tsp instant yeast or 2-1/2tsp active dry yeast
1-1/2tbsp sugar
3-1/2 cups bread flour* or regular APF
1tsp salt
1/4 cup oil (preferably olive oil)
1 to 1-1/2 cups warm water
A little more olive oil for brushing dough
For the Topping:4-5 large tomatoes, sliced thin
1, 6-7” round piece of fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into1/4” slices**
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
For the Herbed Oil:1/4 cup olive oil
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried basil
1/4 to 1/2tsp red chilli flakes
1/2tsp finely minced garlic/ paste
Salt to taste
Fresh basil leaves for garnishing

Method:

  • First make the herbed oil, making the herbed oil in advance ensures that the oil imbibes all the flavours. Tip in all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. Keep aside till required.
  • The dough can either be kneaded by hand or by a machine. Throw in the yeast, sugar flour, salt and oil into the bowl of the food processor and give a quick pulse at short intervals so that all ingredients mix well (If using active dry yeast, first proof it in a little water with a large pinch of sugar). Gradually add about a cup of warm water (add more warm water if required) and knead until you have a soft elastic dough that is just about short of getting sticky. The absorption quality varies from flour to flour hence the quantity of water required to knead the dough also varies.
  • Remove the dough from the processor bowl, shape it into a round using hands and place it in a well oiled bowl turning the dough around so that it is evenly coated (this prevents drying of the dough). Cover it using a wet cloth or cling film and let it rise till almost double in volume. This should take about an hour or so based on the outside temperature. If you live in cool region, keep the dough covered in the oven with the light ‘on’ or in a microwave.
  • You can either make 2 medium sized Focaccia or 4 smaller ones using this recipe.
  • For the rectangular Focaccia using the original recipe, take two rectangular pans/ jelly or Swiss roll pans/ square tins (use around 11" by 7" tins) and oil them well. Punch down the dough and then divide it into two equal portions and lightly roll them (or press out) out on a lightly  floured surface into approximately 11” by 7”.
  • For making 4 Focaccia, divide the dough into 4 equal portions ( I divided into half, and rolled 16”*8”). Roll out each portion or  press out evenly into approximately 5” by 7”.  If you don’t achieve a perfect square or rectangle, it’s perfectly okay as it’s a ‘rustic’ bread.
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  • Transfer the rolled dough gently to the baking tins. The dough will shrink a little. Using fingers push it out from the centre towards the edges. Make sure it’s evenly thick throughout. Let it rise again for 20 minutes. Lightly oil your finger tips and press into the dough creating evenly spaced ‘dimples’ in it. Finally brush the surface with a generous amount of olive oil.

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  • Bake at 200C (410F) for about 15 to 17 minutes till it is almost done and is beginning to turn golden brown.
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  • Once the Focaccia is removed from the oven, lightly brush or drizzle some of the ‘Herbed Oil’ over the Focaccia and then evenly arrange the slices of mozzarella over the bread, leaving very little space between them (this ensures that the cheese spreads out leaving no spaces on melting). Arrange the tomato slices over the cheese slices and spread the sprinkle of the chopped basil over this. This arrangements looks beautiful to the eyes. Always ensure that the topping should cover most of the surface of the bread so that every bite gets the cheese and tomato.
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  • Drizzle some more ‘Herbed Oil’ over the topping and return the bread to the oven. Turn up the oven to 230C (450F).  Bake the Focaccia for 5 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has just melted (as the mozzarella once melted, browns fast). Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil leaves.
  • Cut the Focaccia into slices or wedges and serve immediately while it is still hot else always warm the bread before serving. This recipe serve around 4 if served alone or 6 if served with a side. It goes well with a bowl of soup or with pasta.
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Note:
* If you cannot find bread flour, you can add 1tbsp of Vital Wheat Gluten to 3- 1/2 cups of all purpose flour and mix together well. Otherwise just use 3-1/2 cups all purpose flour (APF).
**I used the John’s brand of mozzarella but Kodai/ Amul /Britannia or any local brand should do as well. Otherwise, use any “melting/stringy” kind of cheese that you can find easily.
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Coming to the winner of ‘Only’ Baked Treats hosted by Kalyani, based on the round up posted here, I’ve picked the winner.
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The winner is Shey Divine for her very interesting recipe- Cauliflower Crust Pizza. Congrats Shey, please contact me within 48hrs at cookingoodfood@gmail.com to claim the cookbook win. Please provide me the following info:
1. In which way you follow my blog publically
2. In case you qualify the first condition, send me your address in India with pin code, landmark and your phone/cell number.
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13 comments:

Hema said...

Bread looks very tempting, especially with the cheese and fresh basil, wonderful flavor too..

Mayuri's jikoni said...

Looks tempting. I love focaccia bread.

Manjula Bharath said...

wow foccacia looks fantastic dear , so perfectly baked :)

Preeti Jaipal said...

it looks delectable...

Preeti Jaipal said...

it looks delectable...

Sumee said...

Love your pics Pari.. Very nice

Nivedhanams Sowmya said...

very nicely done!!

sunita rohira said...

I was also tempted to try whole wheat, but it would not be focaccia then. Your bread looks great.

Lori - The Kitchen Whisperer said...

WOW! So gorgeous!!! Thank you so much for featuring my recipe!!!

Best Kitchen Wishes!

Rajani said...

So enjoying everyone's posts on Focaccia Caprese.The texture on yours is amazing. The instructions are so good. Thank you for sharing.

Hamaree Rasoi said...

I can see a fluffy and airy focaccia here...U nailed it ! and yes pic are looking very good

Beulah Arun said...

Looks too good!

Priya Shiva said...

this looks so tempting! will try soon ..

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