Wow, it has been awhile! Hey hey readers, thanks for showing up to this blog post today! It’s a special one…I made bread! I’ve never worked with active dry yeast before, never baked bread before so it was all a learning curve!
This Pretzel Focaccia from Bon Appétit came out just in time for the Super Bowl earlier this month. Focaccia is a type of Italian flat bread that uses a lot of olive oil and is flavored with different herbs. If you’re a Samin Nosrat fan then you probably have heard about her focaccia recipe that involves a salt water brine that you splash on top of the bread. Highly recommend this focaccia video of Samin with my personal favorite Brad Leone from the BA Test Kitchen!
This focaccia by editor at large Amiel Stanek is everything you expect from a basic focaccia with the addition of a baking soda solution instead of salt water. This chemical reaction creates that super browned exterior and “bitter twang” that you get from a pretzel.
The dough was really easy to work with and this was a great first bread experience. It’s not overly complicated, you just bake it in one sheet and don’t have to worry about shaping the dough or anything. My first mistake was using crappy plastic wrap! When I left the dough to proof the plastic didn’t cling well so a bit of a crust formed when I started to work with it. It wasn’t awful and didn’t ruin anything, but be sure you have good plastic wrap!
The dough was fun to work with and even more fun to bake! When you add the baking soda solution, DO NOT BE ALARMED. It’ll start to bubble when first creating the solution and when you go to brush it on the bread it’ll start bubbling and hissing in the oven. Do not worry, this is part of the reaction, nothing bad is happening!
My only complaint with the final product is that I didn’t bake it enough. I did that thing where you think it’s brown on the bottom, so you take it out and then realize it isn’t done so you try to put it back in but then that doesn’t really work either. Be sure to really let the bottom brown and pry the bottom a little to check. The top will deceive you because it gets so crispy and brown from the “pretzel” part of the recipe, but don’t allow for any soggy, underdone bottoms. The time to bake from the recipe is what I baked it for, so I would go a little extra next time rather than just 10 minutes as it said!
If you’re new to bread baking and find it slightly daunting, this is a great beginners recipe! The proofing is easy, the assembly is easy, and the baking is easy. Even with the underdone bottom, this focaccia was still delicious and had plenty of air bubbles and chew to it. The pretzel aspect was fun and different too! Give it a go, you’ll have so much fun getting your hands dirty with this pretzel focaccia!