Dutch Oven Focaccia Boule

Last week I braved a bit of a Dutch oven bread experiment.  Starting with my recipe for High Rise Focaccia posted here some time ago, I adapted it for baking as a boule in my dutch oven.  My plan was to let the very wet dough rise for two hours, then to shape it as a boule and let it rest for 20 minutes while preheating the oven to 450º with the 4-quart Dutch oven inside.

But I got diverted off-task by an impromptu invitation from my husband to go out for lunch, so the rise was actually between 3-4 hours.  As it turned out, that was terrific.  The longer rise helped the dough develop just the light, airy texture I wanted, so I’ll do it that way again.

Very pleased with the outcome – a light, crunchy crust and a soft, airy, chewy interior.

Like almost every bread I’ve baked this way, it was another simple way to produce superb bread in your own kitchen.  Haven’t purchased a store-bought loaf in over a year!

DUTCH OVEN ROSEMARY-ROMANO FOCACCIA BOULE

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 cups lukewarm water

7 grams SAF instant yeast (or 1 envelope other quick yeast)

3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour

1-1/2 tsp kosher salt

2-3 tbsp grated pecorino romano

2-3 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

 PREPARATION:

In large mixing bowl, stir yeast into the water to dissolve.  Add 2 cups of the flour, rosemary, cheese, and salt and stir briskly until smooth. Add remaining 1 cup flour and the olive oil, stir again until well incorporated and dough pulls away from sides of bowl.  Cover with plastic and let rise at least two hours, preferably 3-4.

Pour out dough onto lightly flour bread board and use a dough scraper to coax it into a boule shape.  The dough will be very soft and sticky, so sprinkle a bit more flour to help shape it but do not incorporate that into the dough.  Place the boule on a sheet of parchment and place that back in the cleaned bowl.  Cover with towel or plastic and let rest 15-20 minutes while you preheat a 4-6 quart Dutch oven in a 450º oven.

Make three slashes across the top of the boule and sprinkle with a bit more flour.  Take the hot Dutch oven out and very carefully place the boule in its parchment sling into it.  Baking it in the parchment will assure that nothing sticks.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, remove lid and bake for another 12 minutes.

Use oven mitts to take the bread out of the pot and let cool on a rack at least one hour.

Corn and Red Pepper Bisque

Today’s chill in the air got me thinking once again about soup, and one of the favorites served as a first course over the years at our Thanksgiving dinners.  One thing I always try to avoid in a menu is redundancy.  If there’s butternut squash as a side, there’s no butternut squash soup to begin.  So whenever that’s the case, I’d prepare this gorgeously golden corn bisque with red bell pepper.

This recipe first appeared in Bon Appetit in 1998; I discovered it a few years later and have had it on our Thanksgiving menu several times.  It’s one of those simple dishes that’s short on effort and long on flavor – but only if you use the sweetest, most golden corn you can find.  Otherwise the result will not achieve greatness.  Trader Joe’s Supersweet Organic Corn beats all other in this regard, and I always make sure to buy mine well ahead of time because a few years ago they ran out…and my search for a substitute took forever combing the frozen vegetable aisles of half a dozen markets.Unknown

The soup can be prepared a day or two ahead, needing only to taken out of the fridge for about an hour and then reheated before serving.

CORN BISQUE WITH RED BELL PEPPER AND ROSEMARY

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INGREDIENTS:

1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tbsp)

2 cups chopped sweet onions

1/2 cup each diced carrot & celery

7-1/2 cups Trader Joe’s Organic Supersweet Corn (about 42 ounces or 2-1/2 packages)

2 tsp minced fresh rosemary

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (this tiny bit adds a nice kick to the whole pot)

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup half & half

1 red bell pepper chopped

PREPARATION:

In a large heavy pot such as a 5-quart Dutch oven, melt 3 tbsp of the butter and sauté the onions, carrots and celery on medium high about 3 minutes.  Add 5-1/2 cups of the corn, the rosemary and cayenne and sauté another 2 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, pureé the soup in a blender (I originally did this step with an immersion blender, but the Vitamix works so much better).  Return soup to the pot, stir in the half & half and the remaining 2 cups of corn.  Season to taste with salt and pepper – it may not need any.

Melt the remaining  1 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat and sauté the red bell pepper until almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir into the soup.  Done!

This recipe makes about 3-1/2 quarts of soup, enough for at least 12-14 first-course servings, maybe with some leftovers.

High-Rise Caramelized Onion Focaccia

 

HIGH RISE CARAMELIZED ONION FOCACCIA

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This was one of my first posts on bread about three years ago, when I determined to replicate the Iggy’s focaccia that Whole Foods sells for about $8 for a loaf-sized hunk.   It was a beautiful bread for sandwiches.  I first tried this easy, no-knead recipe in a 3″ deep roasting pan.  That was a pretty good first effort, producing the taste and texture I wanted, it was excellent as a bread alongside dinner, but not high enough to give me sandwich-sized slices.  Next effort was in a large loaf pan, and the result?   Focaccia for a pittance, minimal effort, maximal results.  This is topped with sautéed onions and rosemary, but you can simply add a bit of olive oil and salt if you prefer to leave out the topping.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups lukewarm water

7 grams SAF instant yeast, or other fast-rising yeast

4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour

2 tsp kosher salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 medium sweet onion halved and sliced thinly

Salt & pepper to taste

PREPARATION:

In large mixing bowl, stir the yeast in the water to dissolve. Stir in 2 cups flour and 2 tsp salt and stir briskly until smooth, about 2 minutes. With sturdy wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir in remaining 2 cups flour for another 2 minutes, until dough pulls aways from sides of bowl and flour is incorporated. Dough will be fairly wet and tacky, but when it pulls away from sides of bowl and forms a loose ball, it has been stirred sufficiently.

Cover bowl with plastic and let rise in warm place for one hour.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion and rosemary in one tbsp olive oil, with salt & pepper to taste, until onion is just beginning to turn golden.

Preheat oven to 500.

Lightly brush bottom and sides of a large loaf pan, at least 9 x 5″  (I use a very large Dansk Kobenstyle) with a bit of olive oil, and line it with a parchment paper sling.  Pour the dough into the pan and with wet fingertips, gently press it out to the sides.  Spread the onion mixture over the dough, lightly sprinkle with a bit more sea salt, and gently poke all over with one finger to form shallow depressions. Cover and allow to rise another 30 minutes.

Place bread on center rack in preheated oven and reduce heat to 400. Bake 35 minutes until nicely browned, then remove the loaf in its sling, discard the parchment paper and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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And yet another bread – High Rise Focaccia

 

HIGH RISE CARAMELIZED ONION FOCACCIA

IMG_0312Whole Foods sells gorgeous hunks of high-rise focaccia bread from Iggy’s for about $8 for a good-sized piece, enough for a few sandwiches or the bread-board alongside your dinner. I wanted to make my own, and deveoped this easy, no-knead recipe a couple of years ago.  First tried it in a 3″ deep roasting pan, and then – Eureka! – in a large loaf pan.  The result – focaccia for a pittance, minimal effort, maximal results.  Mine is topped with sautéed onions and rosemary, but you can simply add a bit of olive oil and salt if you prefer to leave out the topping.

High Rise Caramelized Onion Focaccia

Ingredients:

2 cups lukewarm water

1 envelope active dry yeast

4 cups unbleached bread flour

2 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

1 medium sweet onion halved and sliced thinly

Salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:

In large mixing bowl, stir the yeast to dissolve. Stir in 2 cups flour and 2 tsp salt and stir briskly until smooth, about 2 minutes. With strong wooden spoon, stir in remaining 2 cups flour for another 2 minutes, until dough pulls aways from sides of bowl and flour is incorporated. Dough will be fairly wet and tacky, but when it pulls away from sides of bowl and forms a loose ball, it has been stirred sufficiently.

Cover bowl with plastic and let rise in warm place about one hour.

Meanwhile, sauté the onion and rosemary in one tbsp olive oil, with salt & pepper to taste, until onion is just beginning to turn golden.

Preheat oven to 500.

Brush bottom and sides of 9 x 5″ large loaf pan (I use a larger Dansk Kobenstyle that makes a very large loaf) with remaining tbsp olive oil and pour dough into it, very gently pressing it out to the sides. NOTE:  Alternatively, lightly oil the loaf pan and line it with a parchment paper sling before pouring in the dough.  Spread the onion mixture over the dough, lightly sprinkle with a bit more sea salt, and gently poke all over with one finger to form shallow depressions. Cover and allow to rise another 30 minutes.

Place bread on center rack in preheated oven and reduce heat to 400. Bake 30-35 minutes until nicely browned. Cool in pan on rack about 20 minutes, then loosen around sides with metal spatula and gently slide spatula under the loaf to remove from pan. Allow to cool completely on wire rack.