Focaccia – Part 1

So I got the recipe from Vegan YumYum – Poolish Focaccia. I’d been on a ‘bread kick’ when I printed it out, meaning in my own little way that I had found ALL these WONDERFUL bread recipes but had no real intention of actually making anything within a few weeks of copying the recipes from paper to 3×5 cards.

Last night, however, I made focaccia. Sort of. I say sort of, because there’s a part 1. If there’s a part 1, there’s probably a part 2 (there is). If there’s a part 2, then something isn’t quite finished (it’s not). Though I do not have any photos of the making-in-general, I do have a few things to relate.

I made the poolish Tuesday night in a former chocolate chip cookie dough container (my roommate made off with most of the kitchen apparatuses, including the mixing bowls), in which it promptly exploded and overflowed from
onto my counter by Wednesday morning. I was delighted with the smell of yeast working under cover, but since I was due at work in less time than I had to make the bread to its final debut, I put it in another bowl as best I could find and headed off to work.

When I came home yesterday afternoon, it had bubbled up prettily. Encouraged, I followed the recipe and added flour, water, yeast and salt to the poolish and began to mix it with my heavy, beloved wooden spoon. As Lolo mentions in her entry, it takes a while to mix by hand, so I thought I was prepared. I’d forgotten, however, that I hadn’t made bread since I was a child, and by “child” I’m talking three or four years old. Mom and Dad were still married, we still lived in the big house and Mom and I made “pasketti” from scratch at least once a week.

I never remembered bread dough being so hard to mix! It was, though, and my arms hurt like hell. Maybe in the future I’ll be using a heavier bowl or a smaller bowl or something like that, but I doubt it will help any. I think I’ll just make bread like I did this time, so I’ll have something to bitch about after it’s baked and lovely. I called my mom to talk about it while I was mixing, because I needed something to distract me from the ouchiness of my hands and fingers from holding tight onto the spoon handle. When I hung with Mom, I beat it some more. I ended up mixing it for longer than ten minutes, but I’m a bread novice and it just didn’t feel right. When it did (and I was tired of whirling that damn spoon around), I floured my counter and a flexible cutting board and slapped that hunk of sticky dough down on the counter.

I felt better about it then, on the counter and liberally dusted with bread flour. You see, through this whole thing I was desperately afraid that I would screw it up, that it would be too soft or too mushy or it wouldn’t bake through. (I baked some ‘fudgey brownies‘ while I was waiting on the bread to rise that I did screw up royally, so I was a little paranoid.) I patted it out, let it rise and folded it the first time. Let me share: if you make this bread, or anything unwieldy that you might have to move or fold or whatever, use a flexible cutting board. Man, that thing covered my bases. I didn’t have to worry about anything slipping or being too heavy – all I had to do was fold the board and the dough went with it.

By the time I went to bed last night, I had the bread pressed down twice and oiled well. I had to put it in the refrigerator this morning, but I’m hoping that didn’t hurt it any. I’m going home now to bake it, and I’ve got my camera in my bag (I’ve checked several times now). I’ll take a few pictures and let you know how it turns out in the morning. I’m hoping that being lazy and anxious about making this bread didn’t hurt my first try. It’s been hella fun to do, though, even if it doesn’t turn out.

I guess everyone’s got to make things their own way every once in a while, right?