a pass at focaccia

For my birthday this month, we went out to an amazing dinner at The Pass.   I love fixed price menus because they usually involve making fewer decisions while trying more things.  I was able to try some things I had never had before: escargot (as meatballs) and foie gras.  It was interesting to battle some of my instincts (snail?! liver?! yuck!), but I was over to get over them and enjoy the meal.

The very first thing that they served us was a wonderful focaccia, the likes of which I have never had before.  It had a texture halfway between the typical sponge of focaccia and the open crumb of rustic breads.  Its crust was also more chewy and flakey, and the shape was as if it had been cut from a tall round loaf instead of a short, rectangular one.  The main meal I have no hopes of duplicating, but mimicking this bread is now a project.

I started with the basic recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, my favorite bread baking book.  I also bought a new pack of Saf instant yeast, and hunkered down to my first attempt.

I opted for baking longer under lower heat for a stronger crust, as recommended by the book.  In general, it turned out a little too oily for my taste, but was a respectable focaccia.  To match the Pass focaccia, it needs to have more developed gluten for an airier crumb, and the crust should be less chewy and more flakey.  I may try baking a non-focaccia bread next, just to explore those other characteristics, and then combine them in a third batch.

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