I have told you guys earlier how big a fan I am of baking my own breads. It's always been a food fantasy of mine which I keep dabbling & experimenting with, from time to time.
Bread can be made in a million different ways involving different techniques, kneading methods, proof times, ingredients, and whatnot! To the point that it actually becomes overwhelming for a new baker to even attempt baking bread on their own. I know it was for me.
And that's why thank God for no-knead breads.
What are No-Knead Breads?
No knead breads are a sub category of breads that do not require any kneading of the dough. Usually bread doughs are knead for substantial amount of time (15 min or more) so that all the flour in the dough can become evenly hydrated and gluten development can start.
But in no-knead breads we avoid that step all together.
So how does the gluten development take place? Well, using way more water than we would have used for the usual everyday white bread.
What the extra water does is that it expedites the gluten development process which otherwise was done through kneading.
What is a perfect Focaccia Bread?
A perfect focaccia bread has a thin, crisp crust and a really soft, pillowy interior. The bubbles in the bread are bigger than the everyday White Bread and they are of very many sizes.
The best part about this bread is that it's really hard to mess up and is perfect for beginners.
- All Purpose Flour - 350 g
- Yeast - 11 g
- Water - 270 g
- Salt - 9 g
- Olive Oil - 20 g + some
- and a few things for toppings such as mixed herbs, cherry tomato, garlic etc!
1. We start with mixing the Yeast with lukewarm water. Add a teaspoon of flour in this mixture as well, and give it a slight mix. Rest this mixture for 10 min.
2. After 10 min, the mixture should look all foamy and alive. If there is no activity in the mixture, the yeast is probably dead and this whole process should be repeated again with fresh yeast.
3. Next we take our flour, add the salt in it and give it a good mix.
4. Create a well in the flour and pour all of the yeast, water mixture into the flour.
5. Mix thoroughly with a spatula. I usually use a spatula at this stage, but you can use your fingers as well. Do keep in mind that this is a very sticky dough so probably a little difficult to work with.
6. Once you see no strands of stray flour, add the olive oil (20 g) and mix again. The dough should look shiny but still a little rough.
7. We cover the bowl with a clean wrap and leave the dough to rest and develop some gluten at room temperature for 20 min. This is our first proof time.
8. After 20 min, the dough should have almost doubled in size and little bubbles of fermentation would be visible along the sides of the bowl. No we will start the process of folding the dough.
9. Folding is done to ensure that all the yeast & gluten development activity is not restricted to any one part of the dough and is distributed all along the dough.
10. For folding, first dip your fingers in some water to ensure that the dough does not stick to your fingers. Then pull the dough from the right side of the bowl and stretch it as much as you can without breaking it. Then gently drop it to the other side. Rotate the bowl and repeat the process 3 more times.
11. After the dough has been folded from all 4 sides, cover it again with a clean wrap and this time let it rest for 30 min.
12. After 30 min, we again take our dough and fold it from all sides as we did in step no. 10.
13. Then we prepare our baking pan by lining it handsomely with olive oil and plopping all that dough on to the tray. Try to stretch the dough to fill all of the tray. If the dough is resisting too much, rest it for 10 mins and try to stretch again. Also avoid popping the bubbles in the dough all this while!
14. Once the dough is reached to all parts of the baking tray, we again dip our fingers in water and start making dimples in the bread. Focaccia is known for its dimpled exterior so this step kind of becomes very important. But remember we have to try and not pop any bubbles while doing this.
15. Sprinkle the top with some olive oil (or a 1:1 mixture of olive oil & water, both work), some mixed herbs and I have also used some cherry tomatoes because they look really lovely on a Focaccia. More toppings like fresh coriander, garlic, olives etc can also be used.
16. This will be baked at 450 degree celcius for just 12 min. Do not over bake it, trust me!
17. Enjoy the bread once its cooled (or just slightly warm).