During the hot days of summer, Noah and I spent a lot of time at the library browsing the shelves for Clifford and cookbooks. The deal was always that he got to pick a few books, do some puzzles in the kid area and then he would tolerate me looking through the cookbook section for a few precious minutes. Every time we ended up with some kind of dessert/baking cookbook to take home (he always wanted a cake or cookie book).
I’m one of those weird people that enjoys reading cookbooks so once he went down for his nap, I had the chosen cookbook(s) sprawled open, typing up must try recipes. I have to say, my favorite of the summer was Flour by Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery in Boston. That is a definite must stop if I am ever there visiting.
I was literally drooling over every page of decadent desserts and baked goods. Towards the end of the book, she included a few bread recipes that looked delectable as well. This Parmesan and Cracked Pepper Whole Wheat Focaccia is one of them. Although this is a bit more dense than a traditional focaccia (because of the whole wheat flour), it is quite delicious and made some delicious sandwiches and sopped up yummy marinara sauce. I loved the sea salt, cracked pepper and parmesan that covered the top.
Parmesan and Cracked Pepper Whole Wheat Focaccia
recipe from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
2 cups water, at body temperature*
1 tsp. active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup olive oil, divided
Big handful of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the water and yeast and let sit for 30 seconds to allow it to dissolve and activate. Dump the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, 2 tsp. salt and the sugar into the water and carefully turn the mixer on low speed. Let the dough mix for about 30 seconds. When the dough is still shaggy looking, drizzle in 3/4 cup olive oil into the mixer.
2. With the mixer on low speed, knead the dough for 4-5 minutes or until smooth. The dough should be somewhat sticky but still smooth and have an elastic, stretchy consistency. If it is much stiffer, add in a few tablespoons of water; if it’s looser, mix in a few tablespoons of flour (I had to add more flour).
3. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Place in a warm place and let rise until doubled, 2-3 hours.
4. Once risen, flour your hands and your work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Gently stretch the dough into a rectangle about 10×15 inches. Sprinkle cornmeal onto a baking sheet (I used a jelly roll pan) and place the dough on top. Sprinkle the top generously with flour and loosely cover. Place in a warm place again for about an hour or until it rises a bit and gets puffy.
5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and position rack in the center of the oven.
6. When the dough is ready, remove the plastic wrap and dimple the dough all over, using all ten fingers and firmly poking straight down into the dough all the way to the bottom. Sprinkle the Parmesan evenly over the top, drizzle evenly with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 tsp. salt and the pepper.
7. Bake for 35-40 minutes (mine only took about 30 minutes), or until completely golden brown on the top and the bottom. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes then cut into serving pieces.
*When you put your finger in it, it should feel neither hot nor cold