One of our holiday traditions is attending a pot luck / lasagna party hosted by a good friend of ours. I’ll typically make some sort of bread. (Search the bottom of the webpage for “epi”, “focaccia” or “fougasse” for some examples.) This year it was a festive herbed focaccia created using a room-temperature overnight poolish as the base:
One day ahead I started the poolish: 800 grams of bread flour. 800 grams cool water. A few grains of Instant (not fast-acting) Dry Yeast, about 1/16 teaspoon. Mix thoroughly, cover tightly, and let sit on the counter overnight.
The next steps need to start at least 6-8 hours before consumption. Most of it is hands-off, but all up it comes out to over four hours of preparation + cooling.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine 200 grams of bread flour, 2 teaspoons of Instant Dry Yeast, 30 grams olive oil, 20 grams kosher salt. Mix that briefly then add the poolish and mix on low speed for 8 minutes. Cover.
The total baker’s percentage formula comes out to 1000g flour, 800 grams water (80% hydration), 30 grams olive oil (3% of the flour weight), 20 grams kosher salt (2% of the flour weight), yeast.
Bulk rise until doubled in volume – this will take 1 – 2+ hours depending upon the temperature of the house.
Once doubled transfer the dough to a parchment-lined-and-oiled 18 x 13 sheet tray.
Lightly coat the top of the dough with olive oil.
Using your fingers, poke the dough all over down to the base.
Sprinkle on fresh herbs of your choice. I used rosemary and thyme from our raised garden beds. Which were buried under snow, so that took a couple of extra minutes to pick through for good stuff.
Cover the dough and start the oven preheating to 450F.
Let rise one hour. Sprinkle the dough with flakey (Maldon’s) salt.
Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 200F and the bread is pleasantly browned.
I accidently let the bulk rise much more than double. Between that and the starter poolish the dough was extremely loose and extensible. I sort of had to wrestle it into shape using a generous amount of oil to keep it from sticking to everything. Given a more correct rise time the dough should have been much more manageable.
I liked the festive appearance and the focaccia got nice feedback. I can see making this one again, though I think I may use a biga next time with the idea that it may make the dough more manageable in the shaping stage.
Bonus No Knead pic: