Friday, July 9, 2010

Stinky but sweet

This past weekend we were invited to a friend's home for dinner. To accompany her main dish, I offered to bring a focaccia. Normally I made focaccia by making my usual pizza crust dough, stretching it to the pan and sprinking the top with olive oil and salt. For this dinner, though, I decided to look around on line to see if I might find an actual focaccia recipe that would be just as easy to make. I was not disappointed! I found this recipe for Stinky Bread and had to give it a try! I love garlic to begin with, so I had a good feeling about this one...
Before I got started I had to look at the recipe carefully. It calls for a bread machine. I don't have one. I don't actually want one... My KitchenAid does a great job with the kneading, and I have no interest in baking loaves of bread that have big hook-holes through them. So I had to look over the ingredients and actually understand what order things would be added in, as I can't just dump thing into the machine and let it go. I started by proofing the yeast in warm, not room temperature, water. Once the yeast got foamy I added the olive oil, flour (I used one cup of whole wheat, three cups of AP and 3-4 Tbsp. of vital wheat gluten), salt and garlic. Instead of rosemary or Italian seasonings I added dried basil. Then the mixer did its thing. I love seeing dough come together so nicely... and not having to knead by hand!!

While the dough was rising I fretted a little bit about the fact that the garlic had gone in raw. I know the bread, as a whole, would be baked, but I was concerned that there would be some of the sharp raw-garlic taste left. Should I have roasted the garlic first? Even sauteed it? Well, you'll see...

The dough rose beautifully. I was glad to see that the seasonings were still visible, that they hadn't all congregated in the middle of the dough or anything. I was sure this meant that the finished bread would look great with the basil and garlic speckled through!

The dough was then spread into an oiled and corn-mealed pan, left to rest again, spread with more olive oil and salt, then baked. The apartment smelled AMAZING. The garlic was clearly roasting, the oil even smelled good!

The resulting focaccia was crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and flavored so well. The garlic was not overpowering, the basil was just sort of a hint... We all loved it. So much so, in fact, that I made a second loaf of it two days later when friends came for lunch!

So stinky as it might be, this is an amazing recipe, and a definite keeper!!

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