Focaccia Bread - Perfection or Mistake?
Sometimes trying out a new recipe is neither a success or a failure.
George and I rack our brains every month for something new to try cooking. We debate if it should be sweet or savory, determining who would be in charge. If sweet, I will be the one to scour the internet for the most feasible and delicious-sounding recipe; if savory, he does. We watch countless food-related YouTube videos, brainstorming new techniques we would love to try until we finally land on something we're excited about. This month, that was focaccia bread.
Since before we moved in together, George and I have obsessed over learning how to make different types of bread – sourdough, croissants, potato, biscuits, English muffins, brioche, naan, arepa, bagel, and so much more. Some people dedicate their entire lives to perfecting a single type of bread, and although that's not necessarily our goal, we want to expand our horizons.
I remembered watching Baker's Dozen, a cooking show hosted by Tamera Mowry, where one of the challenges was making focaccia bread art, a viral food trend at the time. Because of our bread ambitions and my desire to feel creative again, George agreed and searched the internet for what he felt was the most feasible and delicious recipe.
However, when I looked into the elements that would create the artistic portrait, it looked like a lot of work. Also, we've never tried focaccia before, so we had no idea what it should taste like, let alone how the design elements would affect the flavor. Instead, we decided to try the recipe without the art.
Despite its fancy name, focaccia bread is surprisingly easy to make.
Making the dough was a quick process. We added flour, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Everything required precise measurements, giving us the rare opportunity to use our kitchen scale. Then we greased and covered the bowl and placed it in the fridge overnight. Overall, the dough was in the refrigerator for about eighteen hours.
Transferring it from the bowl to the cake pan for the second rest is where the mistake occurred. We were in the midst of a spat, causing us not to communicate as effectively as usual. In our miscommunication, I removed some of the bubbles that formed. Ultimately, this made the bread more dense than we assume it's supposed to be.
We let it rest for another 2 hours in the cake pan outside the fridge.
Then, it was time for the dimpling and seasoning.
Dimpling was my absolute favorite part. The dough felt like a cloud, a big wet, greasy cloud or maybe oily cotton candy. I loved that feeling. George seasoned the top with rosemary, salt, pepper, and I don't know what else. He was still seasoning when I turned around to wash my hands.
We put the pan in the oven preheated to 425 degrees for 25 minutes. Although the bread was done, it looked significantly paler than the sample photos provided with the recipe. George decided to briefly broil the bread for more color. However, we were hesitant because our previous attempt at bread was ridiculously dry.
We waited for the bread to cool, then made pastrami sandwiches because it reminded me of the sandwiches my dad made growing up. We ate it with a side of leftover Five Guys fries from the night before.
The bread was a little bland, and George and I couldn't decide whether we liked it. I took some for my brother's birthday dinner the next day, and he and my sister described the bread as "perfumey." A few days later, George and I ate the last of the bread as a variation of meatball subs. After eating it three times, we're still undecided.
Regardless, we plan on trying focaccia bread at a restaurant to determine how close we were to making it properly. We may not know if the result was great, but at least we had fun repeatedly saying focaccia for an entire weekend.