baking · day-to-day activities

My Favorite Bread

Foccacia is one of my favorite breads. It is because it is so easy to make and yet so satisfying. I had made foccacia before I started as the pastry chef of Tra Via, an Italian restaurant on Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park in the mid-nineties. When I arrived at the restaurant, I was told I would have to make the foccacia each day. They had a specific formula that they had been using for quite some time. Most foccacia uses water for the liquid but this one used milk; whole milk. When I made it for the first time I was struck by how moist and soft it was. For flavoring it has dried herbs and two different types of pepper. I like to flavor bread with a bit of herb and pepper but not too much. It is sometimes overwhelming when people put a lot of herbs in their bread. I like folks to say, “what is that? It is quite subtle.” rather than, “boy, that is quite herby!” So here is my version of foccacia refined over the last 15 years. You may now proceed to improve on what I have done with what I was given back at Tra Via.

Herb Foccacia

11 ounces Warm Milk

1 ounce Olive Oil

1/2 ounce Fresh Yeast

1 pound Bread Flour

2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt

1/4 tsp dry oregano

1/4 tsp dry rosemary

1/4 tsp dry thyme

pinch red pepper flakes

pinch coarse black pepper

Dissolve yeast in warm milk and olive oil.  Combine flour, salt, peppers and herbs in a bowl and mix in liquid ingredients.  Knead to a smooth uniform dough and let double in a warm place covered.  Punch down and cut the dough in two pieces.  Form the loaves into flat disks.  Let the dough double again in a warm place covered.  Brush liberally with olive oil. Dimple the dough with your fingers.  Bake in a 375°F oven until done.  Let cool before cutting.

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