I just attended a class lead by Annie Moss, pastry chef and co-owner of Seastar Bakery, and learned some of the basics of baking. As someone who doesn’t bake, I learned a lot! One of the most interesting concepts I learned was that baking is “creating a delicious balloon full of air”. Special ingredients called leavening agents (ex: baking soda) are strategically incorporated into the dough so that they can either create air bubbles in the dough or expand them. Excited by this class, I decided to try this focaccia bread recipe from Joanne and Adam Gallagher of Inspired Taste, featuring the amazing leavening agent: yeast. What’s interesting about yeast is that unlike baking soda, it’s alive! More specifically it’s a single-celled fungus (usually Saccharomyces cerevisiae) that can be revived with warm water and some kind of sugar. Once revived, the yeast starts consuming the sugar and releases carbon dioxide which expand the air bubbles that were in the dough when the water mixed with the flour.
One thing to note is that I decided to make my own spin on the recipe, and so I substituted white all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour and buckwheat flour. In the end, the once golden-white focaccia was turned into beautiful shade of dark brown accompanied with a distinct nutty flavor from the buckwheat.
Buckwheat Focaccia Bread Recipe
- 1/2 cup (118 ml) olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1 cup (237 ml) warm water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 envelope)
- 1/4 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 ½ cup buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
What You Need:
- 2 large bowls
- 2 small bowls
- 1 cutting board
- 1 knife
- 1 medium saucepan
- a 13 x9 baking pan
- 1 garlic press
- 1 wooden spoon
- 1 silicone spatula
- 1 cup measure
- 1/4 cup measure
- 1 tbs measure
- 1 tsp measure
- 1 warm wet towel
- paper towels
- In a cold medium saucepan or skillet, combine olive oil, pressed garlic, green onions, rosemary and the black pepper. Place pan over low heat then cook, stirring occasionally 5 to 10 minutes or until aromatic, but before the garlic browns. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and honey. Stir a few times then let sit for 5 minutes. Now, add 1 cup of the flour and a 1/4 cup of the infused garlic-olive oil mixture. Stir 3 to 4 times until the flour has moistened. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. Once the dough comes together, transfer to a floured board and knead the dough 10 to 15 times until smooth. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. (It’s best to let the dough rise in a warmer area of your kitchen).
- After 1 hour, heat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Then, use two tablespoons of the remaining garlic-olive oil mixture to oil a 9-inch by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet.
- Transfer dough to the baking sheet then press it down into the pan. Use your fingers to dimple the dough then drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the garlic-olive oil mixture. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes until it puffs slightly then bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer focaccia bread to a cooling rack and cool.
If I were to make it again, I would probably add more herbs and spices because the flavor of the bread (although pleasant) is much stronger than white bread. Please share your comments if you try this recipe, or have any stories to share about your baking adventures.
Until we meet again,