Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sourdough Focaccia with Olives & Rosemary

I killed them both in one fell swoop.
Both were tragic deaths. Unfair. And sudden. And utterly inelegant. And I mourned them both privately and on Facebook.

I now maintain that it was a matter of simple cross-contamination -- yeast meets beast --but I spent weeks wondering about the untimely fate of both my sourdough starter (of 7+ years) and my kombucha scoby (which I'd maintained without fail since early last spring).  I also acted quickly to find replacements.

The scoby was easy enough to replace, since I've given out quite a number of baby scobies to friends & neighbors all over town (and I seem to have developed a waiting list of others who are still awaiting the chance to own a 'booch baby of their own).  But the sourdough...

Fortunately for me, R from Cakewalk was passionately working on one of her latest obsessions -- sourdough culture derived from the fermentation of grapes (a la Nancy Silverton). And she was kind enough to offer me a bit of her brand new starter.

It was gorgeous stuff -- smelling of yeast and ferment and the ever-so-slight perfume of grapes (or was that my consistently overactive imagination?). In any case, it was a wonder of a living food. And I couldn't wait to take it for a test drive.

Interestingly enough, Peef was craving foccacia.  So, we planned a lovely casual weekend dinner of cheese, wine, fruit... and a lovely sourdough experiment.

The dough mixed together beautifully.  I used a mixture of bread flour and a half and half blend of all purpose and white whole wheat flour.  And I gave the loaf a nice long rise (nearly 8 hours total) -- to ensure that the wild yeast had an opportunity to thoroughly develop.
When the dough was finished rising, I hand shaped it on a piece of parchment paper, allowed it to rest, and then put together the toppings. Olives... rosemary...thinly sliced garlic... I hoped that this would be the focaccia of my (sometimes easy to please of late) dreams.

I watched the loaf in the oven as it slowly lifted -- as if levitating -- air flowing through every bubbly crevice. And, as a crust formed along the outer edges of the dough, I saw the bread take form and color beautifully.
The final product was crisp & airy, with a beautifully tender exterior pleasantly dappled with air tunnels.  Although it would have been perfect for sandwiches, we sliced it simply and ate it in big, manly chunks -- spread with tomato basil jam and followed with sheep's milk cheese and a swig of wine.

It was love at first bite - which is exactly why I feel the need to share.  If you can manage to get your hands on a bit of sourdough starter, you must try this recipe.

Sourdough focaccia with olives & rosemary

Oh!  And before I forget -- stay tuned later this week as we write about our adventures with locally made spice blends... I don't think I'd be giving too much away if I suggested there might be a giveaway involved...

Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.

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  1. I have to try your foccacia!! I'm so glad my humble starter has the Burp! Seal of Approval! Each time I feed it I'm still amazed that it grew and is growing, the simplest thing that continues to change every single day. I'm so thankful for slow food, and people as excited as I am to share it with!

  2. Hmm so this is why I haven't tried sourdough yet. I'm too scared that I'll kill my starter and then have seven years bad luck or something. But this focaccia does look soo delicious!

  3. The death of a 7 year starter - sounds like a good title for a book. Seriously...that sucks. I'd be in tears. You totally worked it out, though. Like only you could.

  4. Lo, your ball of risen dough is a feast for the eyes! Rest in Peace, old starter.

  5. Oh yum, what a story to with such a beautiful and lovely recipe! Worth the loss?

  6. Ohhhh my.. So beautiful and yummy! I cant stop looking it!

    Health Is Riches

  7. I'm always amazed when bread types begin to talk about starters and such. I tried ONCE and failed miserably, so can only imagine what you must have felt like after losing a 7+ year old starter. Wow. This foccacia is beautiful and could pretty much be dinner for me tonight since I'm am a busy season home aloner these days. *sigh*


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