November 10, 2012

Adventures in Sourdough II

whole wheat sourdough focaccia with fresh rosemary ready for the oven
Is it done yet?
hot out of the oven
lightly toasted with white bean spread and avocado
This bread is absolutely delicious! The sour flavor is subtle. More bold is the taste (and texture) provided by olive oil in the dough and drizzled on top before baking. The only flavor that doesn't come through much, unfortunately, is the rosemary. Must work on that.

After eating my lunch of toasted focaccia with white bean spread and avocado, I had to have more. I lightly toasted a few small pieces with the intention of slathering them with butter. I softened the butter a bit too much. OK, I melted it by accident. So the fingers of focaccia became dunkers. OH SO GOOD! This bread would be wonderful served with flavored dipping oils.

Since my last adventure in sourdough, the starter has sat in a glass jar in the fridge. I think I now have a better grasp on Rose Levy Beranbaum's description of starters as either stiff or liquid. In order to feed / refresh my chilled starter, I dumped it into a bowl and mixed in about a cup of flour and a cup of warm (115 F) water, covered the bowl with plastic, and let it do its thing overnight. 

Once again, I consulted many recipes and then created my own amalgamation. I used 1 and 1/3 cups starter in my bread dough. With the dry measuring cups in hand, I intended to scoop and measure what I thought would be thick starter. Not so. After giving the starter a good stir, it was completely liquid. All I had to do was pour it into a liquid measuring cup. Easy peasy. I put the remaining starter (about a cup) back into its (clean) glass jar, stirred in a generous handful of flour to make it stiff, covered it, and put it back in the fridge for next time.

Rosemary Scented Whole Wheat Sourdough Focaccia

For the dough:
1 & 1/3 C refreshed sourdough starter
1/4 C olive oil
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
warm water (115 F), if necessary
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

For the topping:
generous pinch sea salt
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbs olive oil

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together by hand the 1st 4 ingredients. Add the flours 1/2 C at a time. Stir to incorporate the flour after each addition. Attach bowl to the mixer and with the dough hook knead dough on speed 2 for 5 minutes. If dough is too dry, add warm water a little at a time to the desired consistency. It should form a pliant ball, moist to the touch but not sticky.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with 1 tsp rosemary. Knead by hand for 2 minutes, incorporating the rosemary. Lightly oil the mixing bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and turn dough around to coat with oil. Cover the bowl and allow dough to rise until doubled in size.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for a minute or two then allow dough to relax for 10 minutes. Roll out dough to desired shape, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle surface of dough with sea salt and rosemary then drizzle with olive oil. Spread toppings around with your fingers, gently pressing the rosemary into the surface. Perforate the surface all over with a fork. Cover with plastic and allow to rise until doubled. (It will double in height, not spread out.)

Heat oven to 450 F. Remove plastic and bake bread for 15-20 minutes, or until browned and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. If bread browns too quickly, reduce heat to 400 and bake longer.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can play with it. Use whatever herbs you have on hand or think would be tasty. Try black pepper, garlic, oregano, dill, dried chili flakes. Or add finely grated parmesan. 

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