For Christmas, Brian and Lauren gave me a soup cookbook from Zingerman's Deli and Bakehouse (a Michigan treasure; be sure to check it out if you're ever in Ann Arbor). Each soup recipe includes a suggested "bread pairing" -- which is great if you happen to have quick, local access to Zingerman's bread (I do, but selection is very limited). Without access, those pairings are just wishful thinking . . . (And that link up there? That's to Zingerman's online store. Trust me . . . their shipped goods are almost as fabulous as what you'll find fresh in their Ann Arbor bakehouse. If you have a hankerin' for some FINE bread or bakery goods, give 'em a try.)
Anyway, last weekend, with Tom in Detroit, I decided to try another Zingerman's soup recipe (I'd already tried one - with great results - right after Christmas) . . . AND I decided I'd up my game by also baking the suggested bread for my given soup: focaccia. Now, I'm not exactly a newbie bread baker. I used to bake bread on the regular -- years before the pandemic sourdough craze hit. But . . . I'd never baked focaccia before. No worries, though! I dusted off my trusty bread book and found a recipe for focaccia.
It was a bit fussier than I anticipated.
My recipe began with biga (Italian bread starter; kinda like sourdough starter), so that was my first step. My biga started out looking a bit sad . . . but it perked up and did just what it was supposed to do by the time I needed it, 12 hours later.
The next day, focaccia baking began in earnest. Let me tell you, focaccia dough is . . . sticky. It doesn't really behave like most bread doughs I've worked with in the past. But it was doing just what my recipe told me it should be doing, so I proceeded, fully bought in by this point.
I really like my bread cookbook (it's this one in case you're interested), but I'll tell you . . . more photos would have been really helpful as I struggled to "fold" my very sticky bread dough into thirds, then halves, then again with a quarter turn. I had to trust my instincts and read carefully. And, eventually, I had 3 focaccia loaves rolling right along.
I'm sure Paul Hollywood would have much to say about the air bubbles I managed to bake in (I'm sure that's the result of my questionable "folding" skills, see above), but it really did turn out to be very tasty!
And it was a perfect pairing with the soup, too! (I'm thinking . . . not bad for a first attempt.)
And in the meantime, my knitting jag continues . . .
How about YOU? Are you make anything interesting this week?