Farro Focaccia, Fresh From the Oven
I needed something savory. I’d hit my sugar max. The tipping point occurred after teaching a “Decadent Chocolate Desserts” class at work on Sunday. One slightly smushed piece of chocolate cream pie and half a brownie later, I knew I’d taken the sweets load too far. I returned home so desperate for something salty that I crammed several handfuls of crackers into my mouth before realizing they were stale.
Thank goodness I already had this focaccia planned for a few days, the Kalamata olives already purchased and in my fridge, the bag of flour waiting for me on the counter. I needed no further encouragement.
It was exactly what I needed. Salty, crunchy, hearty and addicting. So why was I planning for this focaccia long before my savory craving began? For this month’s Fresh From the Oven challenge, Helen of Fuss Free Flavors asked us to bake a loaf of yeasted bread using locally-sourced flour. As soon as I read the rules, I knew exactly which flour I would be buying. An employee of Bluebird Grains Farm came to my Artisan Breads class during culinary school to tell us about their operations out in Winthrop, WA where they grow and mill organic varieties of wheat, rye, and emmer. She brought some of their flour for us to bake with and I was so amazed by the flavor and texture of these whole grains, especially the emmer.
Emmer is an ancient variety of wheat that became less popular over time since its outer husk makes it more difficult to cultivate than modern varieties of wheat. It’s a real shame, since emmer has a wonderfully nutty, slightly floral flavor that lacks the bitterness of traditional whole wheat flours. Italy continues to have a thriving emmer (or farro, as they call it) industry, so it seemed only appropriate to bake a traditional Italian bread with this flour. It’s earthy flavor tempered the brininess of the Kalamata olives and the hearty texture was so much more satisfying than plain old white flour.
Rosemary Olive Farro Focaccia
adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
- 1/2 cup whole emmer flour
- 3 Tbsp cool water
- Pinch of active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup warm water (90-110 degrees F)
- 1/2 Tbsp honey
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups whole emmer flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- All of the starter
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 cloves roasted garlic, finely chopped
(I just paid a visit to the olive/antipasti bar at my local grocery store for the olives and roasted garlic, but you could add whatever toppings you like!)
- In a small bowl, combine the starter ingredients to form a dough. Cover with plastic and let sit at room temperature overnight.
- The next day, combine the warm water, honey and yeast in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Let sit 5-10 minutes until frothy.
- In a mixing bowl or stand mixer with a dough hook, combine the remaining dough ingredients, breaking the starter into pieces before adding it. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Knead on medium speed until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed. (This dough will not get as springy as your traditional white bread dough).
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.
- Brush a sheet pan with olive oil. Turn out your risen dough and press down with your fingertips to form into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and to with olives and rosemary. Loosely cover with plastic and let rise until double, another 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once the dough has risen, remove the plastic and bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Cut into pieces and devour!
My salty cravings have been appeased, but I’m still going back for seconds. Do yourself a favor and order some of this fabulous emmer flour from Bluebird. It’s also excellent in muffins and scones!