Currently baking out of Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook by Leslie Mackie
Making this focaccia was a mistake. A HUGE mistake. See, Bryan is trying out a gluten-free diet, so anything I bake I try to get rid of before he gets home. So I made this focaccia, and all my regular baking recipients weren’t answering their phones or doorbells. For awhile, I thought I’d have no choice but to eat it all myself. In fact, I gave it a pretty good shot before my neighbors got home and took the rest of the bread away from me.
Oh, this was good. So good, in fact, that the next day I made another batch of the dough and froze it. This focaccia will be the first thing I make when Bryan reintroduces gluten back into his diet.
The recipe starts out by mixing up a biga. A biga is a runny combination of flour, water and yeast. The almost liquid dough is left in the refrigerator for up to four days. This resting period gives the yeast time to ferment and creates a lot of flavor.
So the day before I baked these beauties up, I mixed up the biga and left it overnight in the fridge. The next day, I took about half of the biga and added more water, flour and yeast to create the focaccia dough. The dough was soft and smooth and a dream to work with.
After the initial rising, the dough is divided in half and pressed out into oval shapes. After another rest, the dough is dimpled with your fingertips, brushed with olive oil and topped with whatever strikes your fancy. The bread is baked for about 25-30 minutes, or until it is golden brown.
Since Mackie’s recipe made two focaccias, I wanted to try something different. For the first focaccia, I followed her instructions to top the dough with thinly sliced roma tomatoes, salt and pepper. The only change I made was to use fresh rosemary instead of basil. This focaccia was very tasty. I liked the freshness of the tomatoes. My only quibble is that the dough under the tomatoes remained kind of wet and soggy. Mind you, I still ate almost half of it, so it didn’t bother me all that much.
For the second focaccia, I brushed the dough with melted butter instead of olive oil and covered it with thinly sliced pears and cinnamon sugar. Yes, it was very, very good. Yes, I ate more than half of this one. Yes, I had a hard time handing it over to the neighbors, and yes, I will be making this recipe over and over again. The possibilities are endless as far as toppings and flavors go.
This is the last recipe out of Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook. Overall, I really liked the book and had mostly successes. I think Mackie did a good job converting her bakery-sized recipes to ones the home cook can easily make. This is a cookbook that I’ll return to over and over.