Focaccia: Easier than expected, tastier than you knew


From FRANCIS LAMB
Salon.com
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Light-textured, shiny with olive oil, and creamy-flavored, this complex bread only seems complicated to make

OK, so it’s not true that I’ve never baked before. Despite my fears, I’ve tried at various points to exorcise myself of my dough timidity, and once even scaled the Great Focaccia Mountain and turned out a few decent rounds. They had all the things you’d want in focaccia — a tender, light crumb, a thin pliant crust that crisped with a nudge in the toaster, and a rich flavor of olive oil. It was great, exciting and … totally lost to me after I made it, because I only did it once and tried to sneak away while I was batting 1.000.

But in baking school, kneading my way through literally dozens of loaves of bread, I felt myself growing more comfortable with doughs of all sorts, increasing in difficulty from the 1-2-and-done loaves of Irish brown soda bread to the tough-but-fair mass of bagels to incredibly sticky, challenging gloops that wanted to glue themselves to my hands, my workbench, my neighbor’s hair. Midway through Day 3, by the time we got to the school’s quick, straightforward recipe for focaccia, it felt like a vacation. It turns out that my Great Focaccia Mountain is actually more like a quaint little hill, but who says things need to be hard to be great?…

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