Monday, January 24, 2011

Whole Wheat and Oat Focaccia

We don't eat bread very often, but when we do, it's gotta be good.  No supermarket sandwich loaves here - only a freshly baked ciabatta from Caputo's or a bagel from Court Street Bagels will do.  Recently, we've added homemade focaccia to that list.

Bread baking is often thought to be a daunting task, but ever since I made the revolutionary no-knead bread, I've been less intimidated. 

Bread baking is often thought to be a daunting task, but ever since I made the revolutionary no-knead bread, I've been less intimidated.  The no-knead bread is insanely easy to make and produces amazing loaves, but I am not the planning type - I want things right away - so the overnight rise doesn't sit too well with me.  And although the bread is amazing, it's not quite right for sandwiches - focaccia and ciabatta work way better.  I stumbled upon a recipe for no-knead focaccia, but had the same long rise - no thank you.  So I continued to search and was rewarded with a recipe from King Arthur Flour that promised excellent focaccia in just under two hours.

I've made that focaccia a few times, and it is indeed excellent - great crumb (perfect for sandwiches) and a nice crisp crust.  But because I'm trying to eat more whole grains, I started to toy around with the recipe to make it a little better for me.  I had made it once entirely with whole wheat flour and it was just ok - it lacked a certain something that I couldn't out my finger on and it was also a tiny touch rubbery.  Not cool.

On my next attempt, I scaled back the whole wheat flour to just 1 cup and added 1/2 cup of oat flour for some much-needed softness.  Maybe there's a more optimal ratio of flours, but I think this one works great.  The bread still has a crispy crust but the interior is soft and chewy and the perfect texture for sandwiches (or just snacking).  Although it's not made entirely from whole grains, it is a step in the right direction, and that's gotta count for something.


Whole Wheat and Oat Focaccia
makes a 9”x13”x1 ½” loaf

4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packets)
1 ¾ cups warm water
1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided use


Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan by drizzling 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the bottom of the pan and spreading it around with a paper towel or napkin.

Place the oats into a mini chopper or food processor and pulse until most of the oats are powdered.  Make sure to leave a few small pieces – it will lend texture to the bread.

Add the ground oats, both flours, yeast, water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 ¼ teaspoons of the salt to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat on medium-high for one minute.  The dough will be sticky and loose (similar to no-knead dough).

Lightly grease a silicone spatula and scrape the dough into the greased pan.  Use the spatula to gently push the bread to the edges of the pan, but don't worry if it doesn't reach all the way - it will fill the pan as it rises.  Cover the pan with a dish towel or a sheet of parchment (don’t seal the pan) and let the dough rise at room temperature until it is puffy and doubled in size, about an hour.

Twenty minutes before the dough is done rising, heat your oven to 375 F and place a rack in the middle.

When the dough has risen, make a few small indentations in the surface with your fingertips.  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt over the surface and then drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the surface.

Bake until medium golden brown, about 40 minutes.  Let the focaccia cool in the pan set on a wire rack for a few minutes, then flip it onto rack to cool completely (that is, if you can resist tearing into warm, fresh-from-the-oven bread).

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