Whole Wheat Herb Foccacia

Hello from Pieland! 21 pies down, 3 more to go (for a post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving). Yep, the number increased again to make the final count an even 24.

The other day my brother took me to Whole Foods to buy all of the ingredients for my pies. I calculated everything out exactly to avoid over/under buying anything, so my list looked ridiculous with a bunch of crazy calculations on it. As I was shopping around, I couldn’t find the baking aisle. I asked a man that worked there if he could steer me in the right direction, and he asked what I’m baking. “Uh, 17 pies…” I responded and giggled nervously. “Oh! Well how much flour do you need?”. I look at my list. “Approximately 24.5 cups.” After a bit more calculating, we figured out that I would spend almost $35.00 on individual bags of flour, until he suggested another idea: I could buy a 50 lb. bag of flour from him for $20.00. That’s more than double for almost half the price. Seriously? Deal.
I love when things like that happen. It just goes to show that people will surprise you, and are often much more willing to help than you’d think — you just need to talk to them first.
So I should be all set flour-wise for my Christmas baking, plus many, many, many loaves of bread in the near future. Speaking of bread, here is that loaf of foccacia I mentioned last time. I finally got to it last weekend to go along with some curried cauliflower soup I made. I used half all-purpose flour, and half-whole wheat flour to give it some texture and make it a little healthier. My friend Matt gave me the flour at our last cooking group meeting. Thanks, Matt!
I should have let it rise a little bit longer the second time around, but I was starving so I put it in the oven a little early. If you have a pizza stone, foccacia is a great way to get another use out of it as it makes the bottom crust deliciously crispy. If you don’t have one, you can use a baking dish it just won’t be as crispy on the bottom, delicious none-the-less.
Also, here’s a taste of the pieromania to come. Happy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone!
Whole Wheat Herb Foccacia
Adapted from the Greens Cookbook
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
pinch sugar
1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/4 cups  whole wheat flour
Coarse sea salt (optional)
4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary, chives, parsley, and sage)
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with salt, olive oil, and sugar. Stir in the flour in two or three additions. Once a dough has formed, turn it out onto a board dusted with flour, and knead it for several minutes, adding only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. When the dough is smooth and shiny, set it in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over one, cover, and put it in a warm place to rise, until it is doubled in bulk, about 30 to 40 minutes.
After the dough has risen, turn it out onto the counter and shape it with a rolling pin into a square. Don’t roll it out too much as you want to pop the air pockets inside of the dough. Then take your chopped herbs and sprinkle them on the surface of the dough. Fold on side over to meet the other side so that you have a rectangular shape and the herbs are now in between two layers of dough. With your first finger, poke the surface of the dough to create indentations along the top of the loaf. You aren’t going for a hole completely through, but you do want them to be noticeable indentations so you can use a good amount of pressure. Then cover, and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the over to 450 (F) and if using a pizza stone, warm it for 20 minutes. After the dough has risen, slide it onto the stone, or put the baking sheet in the oven. Bake in the top third of the over for 20 or 30 minutes, or until the bread is nicely browned. You can spray the bread and over with a fine mist of water two or three times during the first 10 minutes of the baking to help give the bread a good crust. Serve hot from the oven, with or without butter.
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