Monday, December 20, 2021

Festive Brown Butter Foccacia


This is a sponsored post by Challenge butter, but the text and opinions are all mine. Thank you for supporting brands that make Kylee's Kitchen possible! 

I am very passionate about focaccia because I feel like it’s the most underrated bread. Not only is it incredibly delicious, it is also one of the easiest breads to make and customize. You all may remember how popular focaccia art became during the pandemic. Essentially, people used focaccia dough as a blank canvas to recreate famous paintings with herbs, vegetables, fruits, cheese, etc. I’m using the same concept to create a festive scene for the holidays!

People love decorating Christmas cookies because it’s fun and gets you in the holiday spirit, but there are so many sweets this time of year. So decorating focaccia in a festive manner fills the void without generating even more sugar-filled snacks. 

Regardless of whether you give it away or keep it for yourself, I think most everyone would be really excited to enjoy some homemade bread this holiday season!

But before you scroll to the recipe, please take some time to read this information in order to insure the success of your bread.

First, let’s talk yeast.

Everyone seems to always reach for active dry yeast at the grocery store, and I don’t understand it. I ONLY use instant yeast. Why? Because then you don’t have to worry about activating it or pre-dissolving it in water before mixing it with the rest of your ingredients. Also, it gets to work much more quickly than active dry yeast.

You can use active dry yeast interchangeably with instant yeast in this recipe, but you will need to proof it in water first (follow the directions on the package) and allow for it to take about 15 minutes longer to rise.

This article from King Arthur Baking does a good job at explaining yeast in case you have more questions. 

Now, let’s talk about water temperature.

Can you accurately define the degree for “tepid” or “lukewarm?” Me neither! It isn’t a precise temperature, and that’s why it is ludicrous to me how many online recipes call for “lukewarm” water. And if you aren’t careful and your water is too warm, you can kill the yeast.

In my yeast breads class in culinary school, we learned a formula for determining accurate water temperature. It’s called the desired dough temperature formula. Basically, the ideal dough temperature is between 76 degrees Fahrenheit and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. There are four factors that affect the dough temperature: air temperature, flour temperature, friction factor, and water temperature. Water temperature is usually the only factor you can manipulate. You can determine the water temperature by multiplying 76 by 3 and then subtracting the air temperature, flour temperature, and friction factor.

Instead of boring you with more talk about desired dough temperature (learn more about it here), I’ll skip to the point and tell you the optimal water temperature is almost always between 70 - 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which about room temperature. That’s why it says “room temperature” in the recipe.

And if you want to listen to a British baker emphasize the importance of room temperature water, you can watch this video

If you throughly read the recipe, you’ll notice I put the liquids in the mixing bowl first, which isn’t typical of most recipes. I always do this when mixing bread because oftentimes a pocket of flour will get stuck in the dimple at the bottom of the bowl if you don’t add the liquid first.

Last, let’s discuss gluten development.

Proper gluten development is crucial to determining how long to knead bread. So how do you know when it has developed enough? The easiest way is the check for a windowpane in your dough. First, dampen your fingers, otherwise the dough will stick too much to your hands. Then pull off a small piece of dough and gently stretch it with your fingers and thumbs. If you can stretch the dough without breaking it, you’ve achieved proper gluten development. If the dough tears easily before you’re able to stretch it, knead the dough for about 2 minutes longer on second speed and try again. You can read more about the window pane test here. 

I wanted to make this focaccia bread even more special for the holidays, so before serving it, I drizzled brown butter on top. I start with Challenge salted butter. Challenge churns their butter daily from 100% pure pasteurized sweet cream in order to deliver the highest quality butter available. I melt the butter over medium heat on the stove until it turns golden brown and little brown flecks appear at the bottom of the pan. Then I drizzle it all over top of the bread. It’s an easy but very impactful addition!


Festive Brown Butter Focaccia

Yield: 15 servings (half sheet pan)

Ingredients

  • 540 grams bread flour
  • 10 grams kosher salt
  • 9 grams instant yeast
  • 350 grams water (room temperature)
  • 35 grams olive oil
  • 90 grams white onion, small dice
  • 90 grams parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) Challenge salted butter, cut in chunks
  • Toppings: Rosemary, thyme, sage, tomatoes, cranberries, onion, etc.

Directions

  1. Mix flour, salt, and yeast together in medium bowl. Set aside. 
  2. Add water and olive oil to mixing bowl. Add flour/salt/yeast mixture. Use dough hook to knead on first speed for 5 minutes. Mix on second speed until you achieve proper gluten development, about 2 minutes. (Learn more about checking for proper gluten development here.)
  3. Mix in onion and parmesan cheese.
  4. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and proof until it doubles in size, about an hour.
  5. Gently punch down dough, round it, cover it, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Oil half sheet pan and spread dough to evenly fit in pan. Brush the top of the dough with oil and proof until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Gently dimple top of dough and brush with more oil.
  9. Use herbs and vegetables to create festive scene on focaccia. 
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until top is golden brown and internal temperature is 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  11. While bread cools, place butter in small saucepan on medium heat. Stir butter in pan as it melts. The butter will foam. 
  12. About 5 minutes later, the foam will subside, and you'll see golden brown flecks at the bottom of pan. Remove pan from heat and drizzle over focaccia.





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