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Foccacia dissaster


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I recently check out the Bread Bible from the library. Have made a couple of things and it went well. The challah bread was good but the one I make from the recipe I got on egullet is still better.

Yesterday morning I wanted to do Foccacia. I followed the instruction carefully and it turned out aweful. I didn't even get to the baking stage.

I put the ingredient as instructed into the kitchen aid stand mixer with the paddle attachement. On setting 4 (as instructed) after 20 minutes, it never formed into a shiny ball of dough. I turned into a grey blob with no form at all. Note, I measured the flour by volume and not weight.

The most disturbing thing is that the dough turned this grey color. Then I figured out why (and the main purpose for this posting). The paddle attachment had come in contact with the bottom of the bowl. It had made a mark (not a dent) in the stainless steel kitchen aid bowl. Furthermore, it scraped off the white at the end of the paddle showing the metal under it.

How bad did I screw up my wifes beloved stand mixer. Can the bowl and paddle be used?

I don't think I'm going to try this recipe again for a while.

Soup

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If you've undermeasured your flour it might have contributed to your dough having no form.

I've never read the book, but 20 minutes mixing seems very excessive. You run the risk of seriously overdeveloping the gluten by mixing to that extent, and ending up with very tough bread. To give you an idea, the foccacia I make is mixed for 2 minutes before being rested for 15 and mixed for another two (both times using a dough hook and not a paddle).

As regards the bowl, it's probably fit for use again after a good clean. The paddle might be usable depending on how flaky the plastic coating is. If it's flaking at all, you might want to consider getting a replacement.

I'm actually not entirely sure that the grey colour resulted from the contact between the paddle and the bowl - how grey was it?

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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I don't think the grey was from metal: I have a KA mixer with both a white and a natural-metal beater, and I don't get metal. I think it's more likely that the dough incorporated some black grease from where the blade attaches to the machine (a greased steel rod with spring sticking down from the planetary housing). After 20 minutes, it probably got so hot that the grease dripped.

I also agree with Culinary Bear that 20 minutes was way too long. It's possible that overmixing broke down the gluten to the point where it no longer had any holding power. Even using volume rather than weight, you wouldn't have gotten too far off. I would also recommend mixing for less than 5-6 minutes, using maybe a speed 3 (although a 4 would not be amiss because it's so wet).

Foccacia is a wet dough, so it should still have been pretty sticky.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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20 minutes too much, 2 minutes too little. 5-6 minutes, rest for autolyss, mix for 2 more minutes is probable. I usually use a biga in my foccaccia in which a pre dough is mixed, allowed to proof for 2 -8 hours depending on the biga and then incorporating the remaining ingredients to mix for another 6 minutes until done.

focaccia, not a shiny ball. Will pull away from bowl slightly with a little form, but for the most part is quite wet and difficult to handle unless its oiled.

The grey color did come from the padddle, I can tell you that with 99% confidence right now. This has happened numerous times to me and people around me. The coating wheres off the regular metal paddles i use after excessive intense use (its not easy) and the begins to smear into your products on occasion. I usually toss it and get a replacement. But at home you shouldn't have this problem unless you banged it up, as it seems you did. Also, next time as mentioned, use the hook. And if yo get replacement paddle, try and find a stainless steel, not that goofy white lined one :).

Edited by chiantiglace (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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i have the bread bible. Do your self a favor (not too sound too mean) put it on the shelf and walk away. Pick up some more professional books that wont lead you so astray.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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As an aside, I used to work my doughs for a substantial period of time. I've converted to the Dan Lepard / Raymond Calvel school of thought where you knead only to combine, followed by a period of autolysis, before kneading lightly again. I've noticed a fair improvement in crumb structure in the bread.

As to the greyness, I still don't think it's metal, unless the paddle was bare aluminium under the plastic coating and the dough was relatively acidic. I'd be inclined to go for Jay's theory about grease - it's happened a couple of times to me, esepcially after re-lubricating my 5-gallon Hobart planetary mixer.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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We've had great success with the focaccia recipe in Peter Reinhart's BREAD BAKER'S APPRENTICE.

It's hard to say if your gray dough is from grease or metal. With our 80qt Hobart we sometimes get the paddle or hook scraping against the bowl, with a resulting gray streak in the dough. If the entire mass of dough was gray I'd be inclined to go along with the grease idea.

If your paddle or hook is scraping on the KA, there is an adjustment that lets you raise or lower the attachment so the rubbing stops. Check your instruction book or go to the KA website.

Cheers

Steve Smith

Glacier Country

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i have the bread bible.  Do your self a favor (not too sound too mean) put it on the shelf and walk away.  Pick up some more professional books that wont lead you so astray.

It wouldn't be the only mistake in that book. Go to page 324-325, the Levy Rye, and try to make sense out of that recipe. I even emailed her about it, and she admitted it was wrong.

I'd bet dollars to donuts that the grey was metal rubbing on metal. I'd also bet that 20 minutes in a kitchen aid is not long enough to cause the dough to let down. I mix bialy dough in a 20 qt on 2nd speed for 20 minutes and it doesn't break down. And it has less water in it than focaccia.

Words of wisdom from Victor Calise...90% of failures in baking come from improper measurement.

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well bialy dough is kinda tough compared to focaccia, but I agree with you on the time for a kitchen aid. The whole reason I dont make bread often at home is because my 6 qt is so loud and slow at gluten structure I refuse to listen to it.

Just a side note, Does anyone else pronounce bialy as BEE AH WEH instead of BEE AH LEE? if not I think were all pronouncing it wrong in america. If you ask a polish person what a bee ah lee is, they look confused. But if you ask them what a bee ah weh/way is they shoot right out and say white bread, or translation "white".

also, I beleive soup would have noticed is grease got in the dough because it would have smeared and streaked quite noticeably before spreading through out. Thats why im quite positive its little metal fragments flaking off into the dough during continous beating slowly greying the dough a little at a time.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Do you stand and watch your mixer the entire time it's kneading? I'm damned sure I don't :biggrin:

I've never seen a bialy in the UK, but the local Polish Bakery (and I'm very very lucky to have such an amazing place nearby) calls bagels 'biegles'.

Is it maybe something to do with the odd 'L with a stroke through it' the Poles have?

How do the native residents pronounce Bialystock?

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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Sounds like grease to me and way too much mixing.

I make a lot of foccacia and my favorite recipes are from

No Need to Knead

Avaliable from Amazon, of course.

I use a wooden dough bowl or dough trough and a flexible, rounded scraper which works the dough well.

These "slack" doughs are easy to do by hand and I have yet to have one turn out wrong as they are very forgiving.

I have recommended this book to a lot of baking novices who are intimidated by many other books as all they want is a recipe or two, for daily use. They aren't interested in a wide variety of various recipes and methods, just something basic and easy.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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well bialy dough is kinda tough compared to focaccia, but I agree with you on the time for a kitchen aid.  The whole reason I dont make bread often at home is because my 6 qt is so loud and slow at gluten structure I refuse to listen to it. 

Just a side note, Does anyone else pronounce bialy as BEE AH WEH instead of BEE AH LEE?  if not I think were all pronouncing it wrong in america.  If you ask a polish person what a bee ah lee is, they look confused.  But if you ask them what a bee ah weh/way is they shoot right out and say white bread, or translation "white".

also, I beleive soup would have noticed is grease got in the dough because it would have smeared and streaked quite noticeably before spreading through out.  Thats why im quite positive its little metal fragments flaking off into the dough during continous beating slowly greying the dough a little at a time.

I adapted the formula in maggie glezer's book and it's 65% water, not as dry as a bagel, but not as wet as ciabatta. Her description of the mixing method was in a horizontal machine that beat the hell out of the dough. I find it tolerates that amount of time very will in a planetary, and the guys at the country club, 90% Jewish and very very well-traveled, said mine were as good as any.

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I happened to start my learning of making bread with this book as well, as far as I remember it didn't work well for me. I remember her foccacia recipe, there indeed was 20 minute mixing time, which sounds excessive, but theoretically might work, as (first) her dough was almost liquid, which increases mixing time significantly, and (second) she might use kind of flour that stands long mixing better then average.

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It's not necessarily wrong to mix a dough for 20 minutes, although at speed 4 using a KA mixer seems sort of brutal, but I'm wondering whether it's worth it when you can get perfectly wonderful focaccia with a way shorter mix.

You might also try Carol Field's Focaccia: Simple Breads From the Italian Oven. Lots of beautiful focaccia. Her stuffed basil focaccia is one of our favorite things at my house. It's also one of the quickest and simplest which worried me at first because my best breads are way more complicated than that. But this one is easy and just lovely.

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  • 1 year later...

Totally seduced by the words “Sullivan Street Bakery” and despite the disasters reported here and elsewhere, including on RLB’s own Web site, I decided to give this a go. I followed her emended instructions using twice the amount of yeast and adding a half hour to the second rise. I also decided, because some were having problems with too much oil, not to grease the pan but to line it with parchment instead. And I made the “pockets of garlic” option, not only because I love garlic but because I’m making this for someone on a salt-restricted diet so the fleur de sel was out.

Yes, it’s unlike any other focaccia dough. Ever. It’s very (very!) soft. It “pours” into the pan. And I don’t know if it was because of the parchment, but although I cooked it for the time specified, it was very slightly undercooked. But even with that, I thought it was an excellent focaccia, both thinner and chewier than most, and—especially with the garlic—excellent flavor. I’ll definitely be trying this again and just hope that my experience with it was not simply beginner’s luck.

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I just checked out the recipe in question ... HOLY COW! No wonder you never had the dough come together ... it has over 100% hyrdration. 390 grams flour with 442 grams of water ... those are usually numbers you see when you want to create a sponge, not a dough. The focaccia dough I normally make has about a 70-72% hydration level. As someone suggested earlier, the recipe seems to be wrong. I'd also agree with checking out Bread Baker's Apprentice by Reinhart ... he has a lot of good recipes, although I've found that his doughs tend to be wetter (maybe I am using a different kind of flour than he did when developing the recipes), so I've had to cut back on the water / add extra bread flour to get things to turn out right.

Good luck.

Edited by tino27 (log)

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We love focaccia, and I use Peter Reinhart's recipe from Bread Bakers Apprentice. I also make the herb oil, but do not use nearly as much as he suggests. Nor do I use as much oil on the parchment. I refrigerate the dough overnight, let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hrs, then bake.

I have made RLB's focaccia, and agree with others here that Peter's recipe is far superior.

20 mins mixing time way too much, unnecessary.

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I have tried both Peter Reinhart's and RLB's recipe, and I don't think you can really compare them. RLB's is very different from most recipes. As others have noted, it contains a huuuuuge amount of water. And mixes for a veryyyy long time. But then, if I recall, it doesn't rise for that long. And it results in an incredibly airy bread-light, thin, chewy, humonguous holes, and very flavorful (I made the pockets of garlic too). I have made it with very good results, and normally I have bread issues.

That said, one of the batches I've made turned grey, and I'm pretty sure it was from grease dripping down. However, it's strange that you said the bottom of the beater scraped the bowl...that should only happen if the head is mis-aligned or loose. Which I suppose could happen if the mixer were overtaxed?

In any case, I don't think there's a problem with the recipe-it works, and even if it's a bit unconventional and there are plenty of easier ways to make focaccia, it's quite delicious. The problem here is with the mixer. My Kitchenaid artisan mixer is just about shot-they really can't handle mixing for that long. Now, if you had a better mixer, with a stronger motor, then I think things would be okay.

Yours probably didn't come together because the mixer was laboring so much that it started slowing down.

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It does seem odd to me that so many declare "wrong" a recipe that may be difficult and unusual but results in a good end product. I wonder how many would have declared "wrong" the Lahey/Bittman bread six months ago. Nonethless, I'd like to comapre RLB and Reinhart. I have American Pie but not Bread Baker's Apprentice (and there's a long wait for it at the library). I'm guessing that since AP is the more recently published title, the focaccia in that book represents his most recent thinking on how best to prepare it. I'd appreciate it if someone who has both could tell me whether or not there are significant differences between the two. Thanks.

Edited by JBN (log)
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