Last night I celebrated a much needed victory.  After my lackluster bread-bowls this past weekend I was feeling…well, less than successful in my baking quest.  I knew I had a good dough, I knew I had made some elementary mistakes, but I knew that my shaping needed work. 

When I arrived home last night I got to work doing two things. 

1.  Make a great looking Boule

2. Practice my focaccia-making skills

I failed miserably in the boule-making deparment.  I even watched a really great bread forming video on You Tube (thanks The Fresh Loaf!).  The fabulous baker, Ciril Hitz, author and instructor at Johnson & Wales, gives a quick tutorial on how to form some basic bread forms. 

Shaping Video

The video and tutorial were great and I even set up my laptop on the kitchen counter to follow along but found that the surface I was working on (large wood board) and the surface he was working on (countertop?) created totally different results.  I could not get my boule to look anything like his, so I tried for the next best thing and created a pretty darn handsome baguette.   Sure, it was still a little bulgy in places, but for my second attempt I was still pretty happy.

My real triumph was my very first focaccia!  It, also, wasn’t without it’s difficulties and imperfections. For example, I began reading the wrong recipe and didn’t realize that I had to shift the dough to a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper until I already had the spices and cheese on top of it.  So I stood there with 3 spatulas trying to move it with as little tearing and dripping as possible off my wood board and onto the parchment paper.  But, once there and into the oven it went our apartment was filled with amazing smells.

I took about a pound of my new olive oil dough, rolled it into a ball and then used my hands to push and pull it outwards, pound it down, into an almost square shape.  Once done I drizzled a little olive oil on the top and then sprinkled with garlic powder, rosemary, and grated parmesan cheese.  Into the oven it went after sitting out for 20 minutes and after baking for 25 minutes out it came. 

The final product tasted fabulous!  None of the flavors overpowered the others, the dough was chewy and soft, like a thick crusted pizza, and now I cannot wait to try other toppings.  And next time I’ll make more dough as this one focaccia seemed to use half of the dough I had made.  If I make these into gifts I’ll need a lot more dough.