I can’t quite put my finger on why I feel making bread is so rewarding. I have considered it a challenge and I have experienced many failures. Although, I would by no means call myself an expert. I feel I have a pretty good handle on bread making, and I like to challenge myself with new recipes.
I have been participating in Food 52‘s Cookbook of the Month club on Facebook. I enjoying this Cookbook group because I feel like group is really a community. At the beginning of every month, we set off on a journey full of adventure in each recipe. I scour the posts and pictures of different recipes. Some cooks try different recipes I would have never thought to attempt, and when I see people rave, I am feel inspired to try something new. When I do try a new recipes and fail, I have a community that surprisingly enough have shared in some of the same failures, and thankfully they usually a solution. It is nice to have a community where one can share culinary adventures, which sometimes my family just doesn’t understand.
This month our cookbook is Ottolenghi. At first glimpse through this cookbook, I did not see too many dishes that inspired me then I reached the baking and patisserie section. Although I land on savory end of the cooking spectrum, the baking section in Ottolenghi spoke to my inner baker, especially the bread. I decided to attempt the Crusty White Italian Loaf and the Focaccia.
If you decide to make the Crusty White Italian Loaf, be prepared for a commitment. I had to dedicate my weekend to this Italian. The recipes requires a biga and it must set for 15 to 20 hours before beginning the rest of the methodical process. Since I do have some bread making experience, I knew my dough did not have the right texture initially. I found I had to almost double the amount of water for my dough to have the correct consistency. There are all kinds of different elements that can affect the outcome so you may not have the same experience or have to add the additional water. Other than this variance, everything else went according to plan. I did not find anything exceptional about this particular Italian loaf. I have made several different Italian loaves in the past that have given me similar results with a much less cumbersome recipe. This recipe is probably not one I will try again.
Now the Focaccia was different story……..
This recipe for Focaccia was beyond exceptional and worth every bit of effort. This recipe was far less cumbersome than Italian loaf with amazing results. I will make this over and over…. and over again. Ottolenghi has provided 3 topping options for the Focaccia which I plan on trying each one and expanded. I began with the Parsley and olive topping. I pulled this bread out of the oven after everyone in the house had gone to bed. I am glad! I stood in kitchen in the middle of the night stuffing myself full of this warm, delightful vittle. I fell in love immediately. It was fluffy, chewy, savory, yummy! I could not get enough.
I have made Focaccia before but this recipe will replace my old go-to for Focaccia and will become a regular in my kitchen.