Barley Malt. I purchased this product without exactly knowing what it does on behalf of bread. It has shown up in several recipes I’ve tried, and is hell to get off the teaspoon. That was all I knew, but I did a little bit of reading and learned that there are vitamins and enzymes oftentimes in malts that help yeast grow efficiently. “Good strong rise and great oven-spring” several different sources said. I like this optimistic language. Malt enzymes apparently help to convert starch to sugar, and enhances the browning of the crust. So, anything that has to rise for a long time might be aided by the addition of malt. This focaccia bread didn’t have long to rise, so I’m not sure why malt is called for. When in Genoa…
Adapted from The Village Baker
Makes Two 12-Inch-By-18-Inch Focaccia
Make Pizza Dough
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup old dough (I used old dough from making ciabatta)
6 cups organic, unbleached white (or all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon malt extract or 1/2 teaspoon honey
4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Warm 1 cup of the water and proof the yeast in it until it bubbles.
In a small bowl, mix the old dough with 1 cup of cool water and 4 or 5 handfuls of flour, stirring until you have a pastry mixture. Dissolve the honey or malt extract in the yeast mixture and add this to the old dough mixture.
Place half of the rest of the flour and half of the salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add half of the old dough, yeast, and malt extract mixture. Pulse the processor to combine the ingredients, then slowly add half of the remaining water (1/4 cup) through the feed tube while the processor is running. Process the mixture for between 30 seconds and one minute. The dough should be wet and sticky. In the last 10 seconds of processing, pour half of the olive oil through the feed tube.
Empty the dough into a large bowl and combine the remainder of the ingredients in the food processor to make a dough in the same way.
Combine both batches in the bowl by mixing them together with a wooden spoon or plastic dough scraper.
Let the dough rise, covered, in a warm place for 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, combine the olive oil, salt, chopped garlic, and sage leaves.
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoon salt
8 cloves garlic, chopped
24 whole leaves fresh sage
Place equal amounts in 2 medium-sized bowls and set them aside.
Turn out the risen dough onto a well-floured worktable and divide the dough in half. The pieces will be wet and sticky, but use a little extra flour and round them up into tight balls. Place each piece in a separate bowl. Roll the dough balls around in the oil mixture and set them aside, still in the oil, to rise for between 3 and 4 hours. The dough will have almost tripled in size and be very soft and airy.
Remove the balls of dough from the oil and transfer them onto large cookie sheets that have a rim at least 1/2 inch high. With the palms of the hands and with your fingers open wide, spread the dough out to about 12 inches by 18 inches, and about 3/8 inch thick. The dough may spring back. If so, let it relax for a few minutes, then repeat the stretching process. Pour the remaining oil, along with the sage, garlic, and salt over the top of the dough.
Set the focacce aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour. When they have risen, poke the dough with the fingertips several times and bake in a 400 degree oven for between 15 and 17 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
This was great. My Peruvian neighbor Rossana, in particular, raved. It was a bit more crispy than the other focaccia or schiacciata I made. That is because of the oil, oil, oil. Also, “focacce” is plural for focaccia.