I have a confession. These were not supposed to turn out like “crackers”… It was supposed to be soft, puffy focaccia bread! At least that’s what I envisioned in my head. But upon taking a closer look at the photo in the cookbook, I now see that mine is actually not that far off. I was planning on sinking my teeth into some thickkk focaccia like this masterpiece. Of course, if I put the dough into the oven when it’s only 1/4 inch thick, it’s not going to magically puff up to 3 inches as it’s baking. *Hangs head low and slowly shakes it in defeat…*
But, like I always tell myself, this is a LEARNING EXPERIENCE! Read on for what I learned through my epic fail lol.
By the way – I chose this specific recipe to make because it is IMMUNE-BOOSTING!
Rosemary contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which help boost the immune system! It’s also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6.
Sage contains anti-inflammatory compounds and it also soothes anxiety. If there was ever a time the world population needed to soothe their anxiety, it’s now!
Thyme and Oregano boost our immunity because they have natural antiviral properties that improve the body’s natural defenses against colds, flu, bronchitis and sinusitis.
Garlic contains sulfuric-compounds that help the immune system fight bacteria and infections. Some say that eating garlic can boost the number of virus-fighting T-cells in your bloodstream, to fight off colds and the flu.
Whether these herbs really do all this or not, it can’t hurt! And it makes your bread/crackers taste extra yummy 😉
1. The dough became too cold. Fickle little yeast requires a narrow temperature span, usually between 75 and 90 F. If the dough sits too long in a cold room, below 75 F, the yeast will eventually die.
You see, I was so worried about setting off the fire alarm in my apartment (which happened twice while baking this bread) that I kept the windows wide open, allowing in the fresh yet cold winter air. Oops.
2. The dough became too dry. If dough is not kept moist, it can dry out and develop a crust on it, making it much harder to rise. Apparently, you’re supposed to cover dough with plastic wrap while it’s rising. If you use a dry tea towel (like I did) then it can allow too much air in and it can cause the dough to become too dry and it won’t rise properly.
3. Gluten-free flours don’t need to rise a second time. Gluten-free flours will rise, but they don’t need a second time to rise, like this recipe calls for. So I really should have shaped it as thick as I wanted it after the first rising, and then baked it. Allowing it to set for the extra hour probably contributed to the first two problems, without doing anything to puff up the dough. *DOH!*
whole wheat focaccia
from Kitchen Matrix by Mark Bittman
– 3 cups (400 grams) whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting [I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour Mix]
– 2 tsp (6 grams) instant yeast
– 2 tsp (8 grams) kosher salt
– 3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for sprinkling
– 2 Tbsp [or more if you like] chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, etc.) and minced fresh garlic
– Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a food processor.
– While the food processor is running, add 1 cup of warm water and 1 Tbsp of the olive oil through the feed tube. Process until the dough becomes a barely sticky, easy-to-handle ball (~30 sec). If the dough is too dry, add 1 Tbsp of water at a time and process for another ~10 sec.
– Shape the dough into a ball and roll in a bowl that was brushed with 1 tsp olive oil. Cover [with plastic wrap] and let rise until it nearly doubles in size (~1 ½ to 2 hours).
– Grease a large baking sheet with 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
– Press the dough onto the baking sheet and spread it to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Dimple the top with your finger tip, to give it that signature focaccia look.
– Sprinkle on the salt, pepper and herbs. Drizzle on the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil.
– Cover the dough with a towel [and place it in a warm, but not ON oven] until the dough puffs up (~60 min). [Skip this step if using a gluten-free flour.]
– Heat the oven to 500 F. Bake until golden and “springy to touch” ~10 to 15 min.
– Let the bread cool on the baking sheet before cutting.