A week ago, before completing the cinnamon swirl bread, I definitely wouldn't have attempted making focaccia. It's not only because I'm a little intimidated by the whole bread making process, but it's just something I don't automatically think to make, but to buy. Once again, I chose the recipe from the always reliable Cook's Illustrated. I just love the way they test all the possible variations of ingredients, equipment, methods and baking temperatures so that the final product is the best possible version. The instructions, mixing times and speeds are very specific so that even the unsure or inexperienced baker can follow along. The most interesting ingredient in the recipe was probably the potato, which the authors claim adds moisture, softness and chewiness without density. Since I love testing flavour variations and the recipe made such a large piece of bread, I used rosemary + salt, sundried tomato + salt, rosemary + sundried tomato + salt, and finally parmesan cheese as toppings. Normally, I'm not that generous when it comes to greasing, but to achieve a crunchy crust, oil is a must. I only wish the picture above didn't have that spatula lying at the top and the bottom corners cut, but this was the only non blurry picture!
Here are 2 closeups I just had to post. It appears that the only pictures with clarity are the ones where I place my camera on the counter!
The end result was everything I could ask for - crunchy outside, soft and moist inside with a slight chew, but not overly chewy (and it wasn't overly greasy either!). This bread tastes great on its own and would probably work well as sandwich bread. I would love to make bagels next, but first I need to find hi gluten flour. After all that shaking and hopping of my KA around the counter, I should probably let it rest. It kills me when I have to baby my mixer for fear of the motor burning out or the gears stripping.
The recipe can be found here. Note, it only took 14 minutes in my oven and after 5 minutes at 425, the sundried tomatoes were starting to burn so I had to turn it down to 400. Unfortunately all ovens are different so be sure to keep an eye on it, especially since its baking at 425!