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Olive Focaccia

The past few days was one of the best weekends that I could ask for. Kinokuniya was on sale and I had time to do some cooking! Yay!!

Just the first day of the sale, I picked up Best Food Writing 2008 and immediately started reading that night. And just after reading the first essay, I felt enlightened. I felt that I have been fitted with a new lens looking at the food that I eat. The essay was lifted off the book by Michael Pollan's In Defence of Food. The book opened my eyes to what is real food and what is food products (ie what looks like food but really isn't). For some of the bullet-points of what the essay was all about, click here to find out more. The author used the example of supermarket breads to illustrate the difference between food and food product. Have you seen the ingredient list of that loaf of supermarket bread? Does it have an ingredient that you don't know? Well, I picked up my loaf and saw ingredients such as Nacin and Dough Conditioner. Ignorant as I maybe, I certainly don't know what they are and why they are in my bread. Anyone who baked a loaf of bread before, and would know that these aren't your standard ingredients.

So this set me thinking about real foods vs food products, and what I have been feeding my little tot. I still haven't completed my thinking yet, but I thought that perhaps a good way to start is by baking a loaf of real bread.

Just the day before, I made some potato and carrot soup. Unfortunately, I overestimated the size of the pot I was using and had too many potatoes that I couldn't fit into the pot. So when I came across the Baking Illustrated's Focaccia recipe which calls for mashed potatoes, I knew that this was it.

The hand kneading the dough was the ultimate bread making challenge for me. It was a sticky, 3 1/2 cup flour dough and I was pooped after the ten minute session. My hubby did comment that my biceps do feel toner. (^.^)

A generous drizzle of olive oil after the final proofing. This helps to give the dough a lovely golden brown as well as a crunchy crust.

Here's my Olive Focaccia.

The bread is light and chewy with lots of large pockets in between. Oh, did I mention that recipes from Cook's Illustrated seldom fail? Maybe I did, but I would like to mention that again in my gratitude of having made such a lovely bread from them. Click here for the recipe, but please note that the ingredient listed in the narrative instructions are more accurate than those listed above it.


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