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Advice needed: using pizza dough to make focaccia

TorontoJo Sep 2, 2011 07:58 AM

As I was picking up groceries for the weekend, I passed by the bags of pizza dough that my grocer carries from a local Italian bakery. I thought, "ooh, I could bake focaccia with that!"

Well, lovely plan, except for the fact that I am not a bread maker and have no idea what temp and for how long. I did some quick research and here's my plan:

- bring dough to room temp
- shape into a low, flat loaf
- punch down a few indentations in the dough
- brush with olive oil, sprinkle with thyme, sea salt and roasted garlic
- pre-heat my pizza stone in the oven to 450
- slide dough onto stone and bake for... 30 minutes? 40 minutes? ...until golden brown

Does this sound about right? Anything I should change or fix? Should I not use the pizza stone? Should I put a bowl of water in the oven? Should I spritz the dough with water as its baking?

Any advice would be very welcome!

  1. s
    sparrowgrass Sep 2, 2011 08:14 AM

    Sounds pretty good to me. You may find that your roasted garlic burns--maybe fold it in as you are shaping the loaf? One thing I have found with foccaccia is to use more oil than I think I should.

    The spritz of water, or water in a bowl, will make the crust crustier--if that is what you want, go for it. If you want softer crust, skip it.

    1. e
      ediblover Sep 2, 2011 08:25 AM

      The pizza crust has a chewier texture than what's ideal in a focaccia, so the hydration of the dough should be raised. Course, the problem is that you don't know the starting level. So... Experiment away! I'd take some small chunks, weigh them, add varying amounts of water and bake. Pick out the one you like the most and adjust the big dough accordingly.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ediblover
        TorontoJo Sep 2, 2011 08:32 AM

        Are you saying to mix water into the finished dough?

      2. a
        ANin Sep 2, 2011 08:28 AM

        Sounds right to me. I'd probably go at 450 for 10-15 minutes and then finish it at 350 (so you have a little more of a grace-zone since you're not sure about the dough / cooking temp).

        As suggested above, lots of olive oil. More than you think you need. I tend to do mine with rosemary and olives which I find both hold up really well in the oven. As long as you keep an eye on it, focaccia is pretty hard to mess up.

        1. Bada Bing Sep 2, 2011 08:37 AM

          Depends on the dough your baker sells, and also what result you're after. There's more than one focaccia, just as there's more than one pizza. Luckily, they're all great!

          In any case, if your baker's dough already has some oil inside and is a relatively moist dough, I think you'll be fine. If you have a stand mixer, you could incorporate some more oil, I suppose. (I don't have a stand mixer, so I don't know for sure.)

          I suggest that you do a double rise. Let it rise in a covered bowl or even flattened a bit, then roll it out or flatten it into the shape you want to bake, and let it rise again. Consider using a sheet pan. Focaccia crusts don't typically need the heavy evaporation that people crave from pizza on a stone. You can put in the indentations into the dough shortly before dressing for baking.

          I would expect that 10 minutes would be a good bake time if so barely dressed as you describe and on a well-preheated stone, maybe more like 18-20 minutes if you were to go more pizza-like and coat it with sauce or cheese.

          1. d
            Dave_in_PA Sep 2, 2011 08:52 AM

            I think the purchased dough will be just fine... Don't worry about the fine points if you're not an experienced bread maker. You'll be delighted with whatever you make at home.

            Like Bada Bing alrady said, your proposed bake time is probably too long, I'd be checking a flat bread like that after a few minutes. It's impossible to give an exact time, just watch the brownness as you mentioned.

            1. e
              escondido123 Sep 2, 2011 08:57 AM

              I think you are close in your method. I would not use the stone, but rather a deep cookie sheet, well oiled with olive oil. Push dough out into it, let it rise, (I assume a lb of dough which should fill the sheet and be thick) then use the pads of your fingers to make about 50 deep indents into dough. Let rise some more, top with more olive oil and salt and bake until golden. It should not be crispy.

              1. TorontoJo Sep 2, 2011 09:05 AM

                Wonderful, thank you, everybody! I just took the dough out of the fridge and put it in an oiled bowl and will let it warm up and rise. I'll use an edged baking sheet and keep the baking time shorter.

                Once again, many thanks -- I'm looking forward to some fresh bread later today. :)

                1. TorontoJo Sep 2, 2011 12:45 PM

                  Just wanted to report back. I ended up using a 9 x 13 pan, and letting it do a good rise (doubled in bulk), then baking at 450 for 14 minutes.

                  The end result is very tasty, with great texture. It's tender with a nice bit of chew. The biggest issue is the thickness -- I need to use a bigger pan and make it thinner. But for my first go, I'm very pleased. Thanks again for everyone's help!

                   
                   
                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TorontoJo
                    e
                    escondido123 Sep 2, 2011 01:35 PM

                    It looks good, but you're right about the thickness, it should be thinner. Did you use any fresh rosemary on it? That's my favorite addition.

                  2. p
                    pine time Sep 2, 2011 01:04 PM

                    I also do the reverse: I use my focaccia dough as a pizza crust!

                    1. l
                      LUV_TO_EAT Sep 2, 2011 01:23 PM

                      I don't make foccaccia on a stone because the oil is so important to good foccaccia crust...just oil up a cookie sheet, spread it out onto the sheet, put a bunch of finger marks on it, (like you're massaging someone's back with your fingers). Liberally splash more olive oil on it. Kosher salt, herbs, tomatoes, carmelized onions (whatever you like - only requirement is the salt). Watch the garlic though as I find it can burn and get bitter.

                      Bake at 400 or so until browned on top.

                      Pizza dough is fine and good for foccaccia BTW. I also use my no knead dough for foccaccia (more water in dough is key as I like my foccaccia slightly chewy and moister).

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