Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Focaccia Bread at Home

The most deliciously wonderful bread, is the one that comes from your own oven.  We can all bake our own bread, but as I learned this evening there is a big difference between my home kitchen and the school kitchen.  It does help when you can bring home an arsenal of newly practiced skills from Intro to Baking Class.  Also- having a Chef Instructor who is highly committed to his students fully understanding the baking fundamentals and mastering the skills is valuable too~ its practically priceless.

I had a few obstacles to overcome this evening, for example:

-It was 55 degrees in my house when I got home- not a very warm atmosphere for bench resting and proofing breads- but I made it work the best I could.
-My oven is a piece of Junk basically- I had a very hard time keeping it at the 400 degrees required to bake the bread.  My new Martha Stewart oven thermometer has been quite a tattle-tale when it comes to the truth of my oven's real interior temps.  When the beeper goes off to signal the oven is preheated- ITS A LIE!!!  If I set the oven to 400 degrees, it tells me it is preheated at 210 degrees.  If I wait another 10 minutes then it is closer to temp.  Maybe I opened the oven door too often and that is why I couldn't maintain 400.  Either way I don't trust the oven, so my only for sure way of knowing my bread is cooked is to use my thermometer.  Internal temp of 190 is the goal, at least we made it to that tonight.  I was worried.

-I should have known better that my KitchenAid mixer was not set up for 4 lbs of dough.  She was working pretty hard to knead the flour, water, yeast and salt mixture that I dumped in it at the start.  She did it, but next time I may cut the batch in half to keep her happy.  I love that mixer and I need to make sure I am not asking too much.  I would be devastated if she collapsed!
-I forgot the rules about checking the dough after bench resting and the fermentation steps.  I think I guessed right about the desired elasticity of the dough, but apparently I will need to review these skills with Chef Fred at the next class.  That way I won't question what I am doing.

My Husband Tod said the resting dough looked like a pair of breasts- Nice :)

I am really glad I decided to make this bread at home.  It was a very insightful lesson about how important it is to know the basics so that you can cope with working in different atmospheres.  At school we feel protected and we have an instructor right by our side. Out on our own we have to rely a little bit more on our own instincts.  Making bread at home ends up being very tastefully rewarding, its a ton of fun, its super easy- especially with the KitchenAid I have found-  and it makes the entire house smell amazing!

Tonight I decided to make some bread
It would be a scrumptious way to keep my family fed
I put it in the oven with lots of love and care
Here is a fresh baked loaf I can't wait to share

Enjoy! ~With Love~ Chef Stef Shef