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NANCY SILVERTON'S RUSTIC FOCACCIA

 

Ingredients for 6 individual focaccias:

Starter:

1 package dry active yeast or 1 tablespoon

2/3 cup warm water (85 degrees)

2/3 cup bread flour

Dough:

3-1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup starter

2/3 cup water (70-80 degrees)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 tablespoon granulated sea salt or kosher salt

Topping:

bitter greens: endive, arugula or radicchio

roasted vegetables: red and yellow peppers, eggplant, zucchini

caramelized onions (recipe follows)

 

Directions:

Starter: Begin one day ahead - prepare the starter by dissolving the yeast in warm water.  Let it stand until it becomes creamy and starts to foam, about 10 minutes, then stir in the flour.  Cover tightly and let stand overnight at room temperature.

 

(For a zesty starter, begin this process two or three days in advance and feed the starter daily with 1/3 cup each water and flour.  You will then have starter remaining after using 1 cup for this recipe.  You can refrigerate this, tightly covered and feed weekly, until you need to use it again.  Bring back to room temperature before adding to future bread doughs.)

 

Dough: Measure flour into the work bowl of a food processor along with your starter.  With the machine running, pour in the water and olive oil.  Process for 20 seconds, add the salt and process an additional 10 seconds. Let the dough stand for 5 minutes, then process an additional 20 seconds.

 

Single rising: Work dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot (70-80 degrees) for 2-1/2 hours.

 

Optional refrigerator rising: Punch down the dough and divide into 6 pieces.  Place them in a lightly oiled flat baking dish, cover tightly and refrigerate up to 8 hours.  Allow 1 hour sitting in a warm spot to return to room temperature before shaping for final rise.

 

Shaping, Topping and baking: Knock down the dough and divide it into 6 pieces.  Fold these pieces into balls, cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

 

Flatten and stretch each ball into a disk about 5" across on a large sheet(s) of parchment paper.  Lightly brush the tops with olive oil.  Press bitter greens in a ring about 1" from the edge of the focaccia  add additional toppings, cover and let the bread rise for  45 minutes to 1 hour.

 

Preheat the oven 30 minutes in advance to 500 degrees.  Slide the focaccia onto the stone and immediately mist the interior of the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes, continuing to mist at 3-4 minute intervals.  Slide the deeply browned focaccia onto a plate and serve hot.

 

This recipe is adapted from Julia Child's book, Cooking with the Master Chefs (Knopf, 1993)