Parmesan and Black Pepper Whole-Wheat Focaccia

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    one

    10-by-15 inch focaccia
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Flour

By Joanne Chang

Published 2010

  • About

Customers clamored for a whole-wheat version of our focaccia and it tooks months of testing before we were happy with the result. Whole-wheat flour adds a nutty flavor to breads, but it can also make the bread dense and heavy. We introduced some all-purpose flour into the mix to lighten it up and that was the magic ticket.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (450 grams) water, at body temperature (when you put your finger in it, it should feel neither cold nor hot)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast, or 0.2 ounce (5 grams) fresh cake yeast
  • 2 cups (280 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (492 grams) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup (200 grams) olive oil
  • Big handful of medium-coarse yellow cornmeal for the baking sheet
  • ½ cup (50 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

    Method

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water and yeast and let sit for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the yeast to dissolve and activate. Dump the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, 2 teaspoons of the salt, and the sugar onto the water and carefully turn the mixer on low speed. Let the dough mix for about 30 seconds. (To prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl, turn the mixer on and off several times until the flour is mixed into the liquid and then keep it on low speed.) When the dough is still shaggy looking, drizzle in ¾ cup (150 grams) of the olive oil, aiming it along the side of the bowl to keep it from splashing and making a mess.

    With the mixer still on low speed, knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes, or until it is smooth and supple. The dough should be somewhat sticky but still smooth and have an elastic, stretchy consistency. If it is much stiffer than this, mix in a few tablespoons water; if it is much looser than this, mix in a few tablespoons all-purpose flour.

    (Alternatively, combine the water and yeast in a large bowl, and then add the other ingredients as directed and mix with a wooden spoon. Once the oil is incorporated, dump out the dough onto a floured work surface and knead for 6 to 8 minutes, or until smooth and supple.)

    Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl, and turn the dough to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with an oiled piece of plastic wrap or a lint-free damp cloth. Place the bowl in a draft-free, warm place (78 to 82 degrees F is ideal; an area near the stove or in the oven with only the pilot light on is good) for 2 to 3 hours. The dough should rise until it is about double in bulk.

    Once the dough has risen, flour your hands and your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle about 10 by 15 inches. Sprinkle the cornmeal onto a baking sheet to keep the dough from sticking, and place the dough rectangle on the sheet. Generously flour the top of the dough, and then cover it loosely but completely with a piece of plastic wrap or lint-free damp cloth. Place in a warm area for another hour or so, or until the dough rises a bit and gets puffy and pillowy.

    Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

    When the dough is ready, remove the plastic wrap and dimple the dough all over, using all ten fingers and firmly poking straight down into the dough all the way to the bottom. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top, drizzle evenly with the remaining ¼ cup (50 grams) oil, and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper.

    Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until completely golden brown on the top and bottom. Lift the dough and make sure the underside is browned before pulling it out of the oven, or you will end up with soggy focaccia. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle, then cut into serving pieces.

    The focaccia will keep in a closed paper bag at room temperature for up to 3 days, or tightly wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. If frozen, thaw at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours and refresh in a 300-degree-F oven for 5 minutes, or refresh, directly from the freezer, in a 300-degree-F oven for 12 to 15 minutes.