Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lessons Learned...

Several things motivated me to bake bread over the weekend: there was the nearly-empty bag of bread flour sitting on my pantry shelf taking up precious space, I was making lasagna for dinner and wanted a good bread to go with it, and most importantly, I had an inkling to bake something savory rather than sweet for a change.
Remembering also that I had a small bag of unused soy flour lurking somewhere in my kitchen, I decided to peek into a cookbook I haven’t picked up in years, The Whole Soy Cookbook, sweetly given to me by my younger brother almost 10 years ago. Inside, the recipe for soy parmesan focaccia caught my eye because it didn’t require a lot of ingredients, had only one rising time (yippee), and doesn't focaccia go so well with lasagna?
The recipe used a combination of both unbleached AP flour and soy flour, but leave it to me to not leave well enough alone. Remember that bread flour I mentioned? Yeah, you guessed it… I used this in place of the AP flour. Little did I think that bread flour, with its higher gluten and protein content, would create a texture that was not as soft and tender as I would have liked. Oh, the focaccia was not a complete disaster and actually looked quite lovely coming out of the oven but truthfully, I was disappointed with the toughness of the bread. On the bright side, I can probably still use this as a base for some homemade pizza, and if you really want to punch it up a little more, how about adding some sun-dried tomatoes or kalamata olives next time? Oh, and stick with the all purpose flour too. That’s key.

Soy Parmesan Focaccia (adapted from The Whole Soy Cookbook by Patricia Greenberg):
1 cup warm water
1 cup soy milk
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/2 cup soy flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
Cornmeal, for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons or more chili flakes
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (or soy parmesan cheese if you'd prefer)

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl and stir until yeast is dissolved and foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, salt, pepper, and rosemary; gradually add the yeast liquid, mixing thoroughly with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.
3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes or until dough is no longer sticky (dough will be very sticky so add flour as needed).
4. Form dough into a ball and place in a slightly oiled bowl; cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F; line a11 x 17-inch baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.
6. Flatten the dough on a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle to fit the baking sheet; sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese and the chili flakes. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Slice and serve hot.
(yields 8 large pieces)

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