Help me celebrate Spring with this Thin and Crispy Spring Focaccia with Lemon, Fennel Seeds and Thyme.
I’m the hostess for the Bread Baking Babes this month and my challenge to the Babes and to you, if you choose to participate, is to show me your festive Spring Focaccia.
I got the inspiration for this bread from an article in The Local Palate, a magazine that I recently subscribed to. The magazine is a celebration of Southern cuisine.
I decided to subscribe to the magazine because I thought I needed to get out of my bread box and learn some new dishes, and the fact that it featured Southern food appealed to me since I’m from the South (US).
I devoured the first issue of the magazine. And as luck would have it, the pages that jumped out at me featured breads made by Sarah Owens, a bread baker who just happens to have a book out called Sourdough which just won a James Beard Award. Perhaps this just goes to show you that bread will find you even when you’re not looking for it.
One of the photos from the article that really caught my attention was a Spring Herb and Lemon Focaccia. It was so creative and reminded me of the colors and flavors of Spring. This bread really inspired me, and I just couldn’t get it out of my head so I chose it as the monthly bake for May.
I’ve posted a formula for a focaccia made with an overnight poolish that incorporates a little yeast; however, feel free to use your favorite focaccia recipe and then get creative with the toppings and flavors of your choice. The focaccia featured in the magazine uses sourdough so if you want to utilize a sourdough starter in this bread instead of the yeast poolish, check out that recipe.
Try incorporating a different flour, if you dare, and add some seeds or dried fruit for flair. The idea here is to come up with something that represents the colors and flavors of Spring.
I chose to incorporate sprouted wheat flour in my dough and add sprouts on top because to me a sprout signifies the beginning or rebirth of Spring. I’ve been working in my garden the past few weeks and it seemed appropriate to use this analogy with this loaf.
I used Carolina Ground 75 Bread Flour, which is more like a light whole wheat and 20% sprouted spelt flour in the formula, but you could use all-purpose or bread flour if you prefer. Just reduce the hydration if you don’t incorporate any whole wheat.
This focaccia makes a great appetizer or the main meal. The flavors of the fennel seed, thyme and lemon paired really well. My taste testers and I enjoyed the hint of tanginess you get when you bite into a piece with a lemon slice. We also enjoyed this bread dipped in hummus.
- 40 grams (100 %) Bread Flour (I used Carolina Ground 75 Bread Flour)
- 44 grams (125%) water, room temperature
- ⅛ teaspoon yeast
- 668 grams (80%) Bread Flour
- 167 grams (20%) Sprouted Spelt Flour (or whole wheat, or bread flour)
- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
- 625 grams (75%) - 725 grams (87%) water *
- 84 grams (All) Poolish
- 17 grams Olive Oil
- 25 grams water (3%), to mix with the salt
- 17 grams Coarse Sea Salt
- Olive Oil
- Coarse Sea Salt, for sprinkling if desired
- Fennel Seeds, to taste
- Dried Thyme, to taste
- Lemon slices, thinly sliced
- Spring Mix Greens, or other greens as desired
- Alfalfa Sprouts
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the bread flour and yeast. Pour in the room temperature water and combine using a wooden spoon. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula or dough scraper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest on the counter at room temperature (75 degrees F. /25 degrees C.) for 12 to 14 hours.
- The next day, or when ready to mix the final dough, whisk together the flours and yeast in a large bowl. Pour the water and oil over the poolish and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk to break up the poolish. Add the water gradually, reserving the 25 grams to mix with the salt. I started with about 650 grams (78%), then gradually added more water until the dough reached the consistency I was looking for 725 grams (87%). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a dough scraper, cover and let it rest (autolyze) for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and sprinkle the salt over the top of the dough. Pour the remaining 25 grams of water over the salt to dissolve it. Using wet hands, thoroughly incorporate the salt into the dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle water on a work surface. Uncover the dough and transfer it to the wet surface. Using wet hands, fold the dough from all sides. Then gently tuck the seams under and place the dough back in the bowl. Using water on the counter and your hands, alleviates the need to oil the bowl or the work surface. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set the dough aside for the third time to ferment for 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle water on the work surface again and fold the dough one last time. Tuck the seams under and place it back in the bowl. Cover and set it aside to ferment for 2 hours.
- An hour before you plan to bake the focaccia, place a baking stone or tiles in the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees F. (260 degrees C.) If you plan to use a pan for steam, place it in the oven at this time.
- Sprinkle your work surface with water. Transfer the dough to the work surface and divide it into four equal pieces. Depending on the type of flour you use and the hydration, each piece will be approximately 400 grams. Mine were about 410 grams each.
- Shape each piece into a round and cover with plastic. Let them bench rest for 15 minutes.
- At this point, I wrapped two of the dough balls in oiled plastic, placed them in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator to use another day. Feel free to make them all at once if you prefer.
- Lightly oil two half sheets of parchment paper. Place one dough ball on each sheet. Gently press on the dough to degas it and then shape each piece into a flattish round. Cover the rounds with plastic wrap and let them proof for 45 minutes.
- Uncover the dough, drizzle olive oil over the top and gently stretch each piece into an oval disk the length of the parchment paper, or to the desired size. Sprinkle the top with fennel seeds, thyme and sea salt (optional) and place thinly sliced lemons, as desired.
- The first time I made these focaccias, I used one lemon to top two focaccias, but it really needed more so for the next batch, I added more lemon slices.
- Using a baker’s peel or unrimmed baking sheet, transfer the focaccia (on the parchment) to the preheated baking stone. If using steam, add ice cubes to the steam pan. I used my new baking steel with no added steam.
- Bake the focaccia for 10 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and crisp around the edges. Remove the parchment paper partway through baking to allow the bottom to firm up.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Add a handful of the spring mix greens and sprouted alfalfa and tear apart pieces or slice it if you prefer.
- Repeat with the remaining focaccias.
*The bread flour I used is closer to a light whole wheat and I also used some sprouted wheat which absorbs more liquid. If using regular white bread flour, the hydration should be closer to 77% - 80%.
Adapted from:The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Bread Baking by The French Culinary Institute http://astore.amazon.com/bread-cookbooks-20/detail/158479934X
Inspired by: Spring Herb and Lemon Focaccia by Sara Owens
Put your creative hats on and come up with something refreshing and springy using bread as your canvas. Details on how to participate are below the badge.
We invite you to join us this month and make Spring Focaccia
I am pleased to be the host kitchen for the month of May. You’re invited to bake along with us as a Bread Baking Buddy!
To participate, just bake a Spring Focaccia and post it on your blog with a link to this BBB post by the 30th of this month. You may also want to post a photo with a link to your post on the BBBs FB page.
Then send an email to breadexperience at gmail dot com and mention BBB May 2016 – Spring Focaccia in the subject line and I will send you a BBB badge to add to your blog post. The round up can be expected around the 3rd of June.
If you don’t have a blog, do not hesitate to bake and email me at breadexperience at gmail dot com with your name, a 500px wide image of your bread and the link to your BBB post on FB. I will be sure to include a photo of your bread in the roundup.
And please do check out the Spring Focaccias the other Babes made. Their loaves are sure to be inspiring as well as delicious!
Bake My Day – Karen
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Bread Experience – Cathy
Feeding my Enthusiasms – Elle
All Roads Lead to the Kitchen – Heather
Judy’s Gross Eats – Judy
Karen’s Kitchen Stories – Karen
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
Thyme for Cooking – Katie (Bitchin’ Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire)
A Messy Kitchen – Kelly
Life’s a Feast – Jamie
Ilva Beretta Food Photography – Ilva
Happy Spring Baking!