We've established that my boyfriend loves bread. Perhaps more than he loves me. Well, not quite. The thing is, I love trying breads made out of different grains and he
2:27 PM D: maybe whole wheat bread isn't so bad. (except for pitas and bagels. those are still bad.)So I've stopped sneaking whole grains into my breads. I've been just telling him. And he's been more willing to try them without all of the trickery. I've been doing half whole grain flour and half unbleached all purpose flour. No need to scare the boy. This focaccia is one of my latest attempts at getting him to eat something besides white flour.
2:33 PM me: where did you have whole wheat bread?2:34 PM D: brad's accidentally made my sandwich on it. me: ah.2:35 PM D: it tasted a bit sweet. and then i read a website about how much better it is for you. me: yes. whole grains are good for you.
Spelt flour has a natural sweetness to it, which is why I was attracted to this particular focaccia recipe. The other great thing about focaccia dough in general is that it's very forgiving and improves with age. So if you, say, discover a brand new grilled cheese truck while on your morning run and then decided that you should have lunch there, but didn't end up eating lunch until 2:30, and realize that you aren't really hungry for dinner because you just ate a giant grilled cheese sandwich and some freshly made vegetable chips (which were absolutely delicious, and let's be honest here, you don't regret it in the least and will probably go back next Sunday)...but you already made the focaccia dough, it will happily wait around for you in the fridge until the following day. Just pull it out a couple of hours before you plan to bake it so it can come to room temperature. Focaccia is one of those doughs that really benefits from a longer rise. So, go ahead, take your time.
Sunday's (which was when I originally planned to make this) Locavore Challenge was to cook with local oils/fats, grains and cheeses. Since Monday's featured challenge was "read a locavore book" and school's starting up again on Tuesday, I decided to just carry the fats/grains/cheeses thing over. I think I did OK with that. I wasn't about to go out and buy all new flours in order to make this recipe (however, if I were so inclined Cayuga Pure Organics makes some great flours. I'm not going to waste food in order to meet the challenge. The state of the G Train for past few months has made getting to Brooklyn Kitchen, where I usually get my CPO fix, difficult. So my flours aren't from them).
I was dismayed to discover, however, that Cabot, VT is just outside (well, about 25 miles outside) my 250 mile radius. So much for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. I went to visit my favorite cheese monger and they had sold out of anything that was related to what I wanted, so I bought the Cabot anyway. My thinking is this: A good chunk of the 250 miles to the east and southeast of me is ocean, and I don't eat fish, so a couple extra miles to the north isn't that bad, right? OK, I'm rationalizing. But my breakfast was entirely local on Monday (pan fried potatoes, onion and peppers topped with a fried egg cooked in some Ronnybrook butter I forgot was in my freezer). And I did make a valiant effort. Here's the thing though, if you can't get local cheese at a store that prides itself on carrying local goods, where can you get it?
Anyway, D's opinion of the bread was: "Your wheat bread tastes like wheat white bread. It's not sweet." I guess next time I need to add some honey...?
For those of you who are bakers, do you use whole grain flours when you bake? What are your results like?
Spelt Focaccia with Tomato, Onion and Cheddar
Bread recipe adapted from Good to the Grain. Topping inspired by the focaccia Hot Bread Kitchen was selling at the Greenmarket on Saturday
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 c warm water
a pinch of sugar
1 1/2 c spelt flour
1 1/2 c unbleached apf
2 t fine grained sea salt
2 T olive oil
1/4 c olive oil
2-3 small tomatoes (I used 1/2 a Roma tomato and 2 peach tomatoes), sliced very thinly
1 small, sweet onion, sliced very thinly
1-2 oz aged sharp cheddar, grated (Cabot Clothbound Cheddar is an excellent choice)
1 T chopped basil (optional)
Proof your yeast by placing it in a large bowl with the warm water and sugar. Let sit for about 5 minutes, or until foamy.
Sift flours and salt together in a large bowl. Pour any bits of grain back into the mix. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Mix together until the dough forms a rough ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to rise for about 2 hours (or, you can pop it in the fridge and let it rise for 6-8 hours or you can let it rise completely, punch it down, wrap it very tightly in plastic wrap and take it back out a couple hours before you want to make the bread. Just bring it back to room temperature before shaping).
When the dough has risen, punch it down and spread it across a lightly oiled 9 x 13 baking pan. Cover and let the dough rise for an hour. Once the dough is risen, preheat the oven to 400. Top the dough, first with olive oil, a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a few grinds of pepper, then with the veggies, and finally with the cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Sprinkle the top with basil and some more freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before serving.
Makes one 9x13 pan of focaccia or two 9" round pans of focaccia