After making the best focaccia ever, I was a little obsessed with the idea of making a whole-wheat focaccia that was just as good, or even better. But with all that was going on, it took me until now to actually make it. Boy, was it worth the wait!
My Whole-Wheat Focaccia is not just soft as a pillowy cloud with a divinely chewy crust, it is also a good-for-you bread that you don’t have to feel guilty about cramming down your gullet. Slice it into half and slap on some vegan mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes and you will have a delicious meal you’ll never forget. You can even eat it as is, or with some extra virgin olive oil drizzled on.
To achieve the perfect wholegrain foccacia, I put all of my trust in that stinky old mess no serious bread baker should be without, especially if he or she loves wholegrain breads: sourdough.
Sourdough elicits some strong reactions: there are those who love it and those who hate it. I kinda belong to both groups. I am not a fan of sour breads, but I do love the texture that sourdough gives breads, especially wholegrain breads. So I tread the middle path: I use just enough sourdough to give me the texture and a hint of great flavor without any of the sourness. It’s a win-win.
Sourdough also plays a valuable role in wholegrain bread-baking. It helps wholegrain breads, handicapped by their low gluten content, rise and become airy, the way high-gluten breads are. Mark Bittman of the New York Times wrote a great article last week about wholegrain baking and the important role sourdough can play in making it better. If you have never baked before with sourdough and don’t know where to start, read this post from my archives to begin your own sourdough starter. It’s the easiest thing to do and you will reap the rewards forever.
To give even more flavor to my already delectable foccacia, I brushed on an intoxicating medley of rosemary, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and garlic. All of these vibrant flavors infuse the bread during the baking and make it even more delicious, if possible. The oil also gives the focaccia a beautiful golden hue, making it food for the eyes as well.
This is pretty much a no-knead bread, made using the same technique from America’s Test Kitchen that I used in my last focaccia recipe, so it’s quite easy to make as well. I know you’re just raring to read the recipe so I won’t keep you from it anymore. Next, watch out for my dessert recipe for our Valentine’s Day countdown series: a chocolatey treat you will not be able to resist.
(Makes one large loaf or two small ones)
1 cup sourdough
3 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (if you can’t find this, substitute one more cup of the whole-wheat with all-purpose)
2 tsp active dry yeast
Salt to taste
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 cups warm water
For the topping:
2 tbsp finely minced rosemary
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Mix the toppings together in a small bowl and set aside.
Mix the yeast in 1/2 cup of water and set aside to froth for five minutes.
After five minutes, add the sourdough to a large bowl. Then add the flours, oil, and the remaining water and mix with a wooden spoon or in the bowl of a stand mixer until everything comes together. This is a very sticky dough at this stage, but that is what will make this focaccia light and airy.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and place in an oven with the pilot light on or in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
Using an oiled spatula, turn the dough over on itself in the bowl for a total of 10 times. You don’t want to deflate the dough too much so don’t knead it by hand.
Turn the dough over into a large baking pan (15 by 10 inches) sprinkled with some coarse salt. Or divide in half and place each half in a 9-inch cake tin. (I used a glass baking dish which wasn’t such a good idea, because the baked bread was a bear to unmold. I’d advise using a metal pan)
Press the dough gently out from the center so it reaches the sides of the pan.
Cover the pan or pans with plastic wrap and place in the oven with the pilot on for another hour or until the dough has doubled.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.
Using a fork, prick the dough all over to remove any bubbles on top. Don’t go heavy-handed because you don’t want to deflate the dough.
Brush the top of the bread with the rosemary-olive oil mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Remove the focaccia pan or pans from the oven and let stand on a rack for five minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and continue to cool on the rack.
This focaccia goes to Manasi’s I Must Make That event. It also includes a giveaway from CupoNation. Head over to Manasi’s blog, A Cook at Heart, for some delicious food, a lot of it Indian, a lot of it kid-friendly, and for the entertaining stories she pens alongside her recipes.