August 06, 2006
I decided to make foccacia tonight. I had been thinking about it for a while and when I was at the Farmer’s market on Tuesday I got some feta and roasted red pepper spread that I thought would be a suitable topping. The recipe I found was for the bread machine. It was a garlic foccacia, and that sounded good to me except I decided to substitute one cup of whole wheat flour for one of the cups of white flour. This usually isn’t that big of a deal. However, I have a reoccurring problem with our bread machine- All of the recipes I find for bread machines generally conclude with “add ingredients as per manufacturer’s instructions”. That’s all well and good for someone who still has the manufacturer’s instructions or for someone who read them at some point, but neither of those describe my current situation. This means that every time I use the bread machine I wonder if things are going to turn out the way I want them to. In general, they haven’t and I’m beginning to suspect that I should do some searching for the bread machine manual or just resume making bread the old fashioned way, without a machine. Some mistakes however, are not due to a faulty recipe or a lack of manufacturer’s instructions but just straight up human error. I threw all of the ingredients in the bread machine on the dough cycle and hoped for the best. When the machine beeped at the end of the dough cycle, I took it out, put it on a floured surface, as I had been instructed to do and attempted to shape it into two rectangles. I was supposed to then let the dough rise and bake it on a stone in the oven. When I turned it out my dough seemed a little dense, there didn’t appear to be enough of it to form two rectangles. This was a little odd, but stranger things have happened, I decided shapes didn’t matter and formed one big circle then put it on a pizza tray to rise. I returned to my dough some time later, expecting it to have risen and to be ready to pop into the oven. It was sitting on the tray, just as flat as I’d left it. Hmm. Not impressed. Maybe it was the substitution of whole wheat flour that was the problem, sometimes whole wheat flour takes longer to rise. I decided to leave it a little while longer. When I came back to check on my dough, this time determined to put it in the long ago pre-heated oven, it was still flat as a pancake. Maybe it would rise in the oven? I put it in. When the buzzer went off I looked in at my slightly inflated, (though by no means risen) “foccacia,” it was still pale and didn’t seem to have any colour to it. I decided it wasn’t done and left it in. I did this two more times before deciding that I was just going to garnish it the way it was, hopefully the addition of feta spread and olives would save it. I was so annoyed with the thing at this point that I didn’t even want to try it. Mom eventually took care of that for me and sliced into the flat bread. It was dense and chewy, the opposite of foccacia. I still couldn’t figure out what exactly the problem had been but was beginning to think that it couldn’t possibly be me, it must be the lack of manufacturer’s instructions. I thought that I must be missing one key piece of information. Dad walked into the kitchen and provided me with that missing piece of information. He took one look at my flattened foccacia and announced “There’s no yeast in that.” Sure enough, Dad was right. I’m an idiot and forgot to add the yeast. Sometimes you just can’t win.