Abby's wonderful focaccia and reading her encouragement to make this, I decided to whip it up this weekend. I decided to make up the full batch of biga from the ciabatta recipe on page 105, but I had planned on only using 2/3 of it for the final dough. I figured 2/3 of the ciabatta recipe would be just enough to make both the regular focaccia and the focaccia con formaggio. However, as quite often happens when I do things like this, I goofed and put the whole biga in with the other ingredients when I was mixing up the final dough, instead of only 2/3 of it. I didn't realize my error until all the fermentation was finished and I was ready to put my dough into the pan. I was mad at myself for committing this blunder, and hoped that it didn't have an adverse impact on the finished product. As Abby said, this dough was very wet and quite sticky. I even tried oiling my hands really well, but it didn't seem to help much.
I don't have a 10-inch cake pan so my focaccia ended up going into my 9 inch cake pan, and I just used an ounce less of dough. Since I had my PR book, 'Bread Bakers Apprentice', open to his focaccia recipe, I decided to just go ahead and make the herb oil he describes, for mine as well. I didn't have any other ideas and it won't be too long before cooler weather comes and the only way to get fresh herbs will be from the grocery stores. I used a generous amount of fresh basil and rosemary. I didn't have fresh oregano so I threw in dried. I think I had about 2 heaping tablespoons full of herbs that I put into my 1/4 cup of warmed (to ~ 100°F) olive oil. To the warmed oil I also added kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and a minced garlic clove. Mmmm did it smell good.
I put 2 Tbsp of plain olive oil into my cake pan, which I had lined w/ a piece of parchment. I made sure the bottom and sides were nicely coated. After reading Jeffrey's instructions for shaping and panning the focaccia, I thought 'Heck with that!! I'm not shaping and then trying to move that very wet dough to the pan'. So I did what Mr. Reinhart recommends, and that was to put the dough into my cake pan, smoosh it out a little bit, pour on a generous amount of my herb oil and then using my fingertips, to dimple the dough until it stretched out and just touched the sides of the pan. I covered it for 1 1/2 hours for its final fermentation and then into the oven it went.
As we were sitting down to dinner, hubby had already tried the focaccia before I had touched mine, and he says 'you better let me have yours, it tastes aweful'. He said this with such a straight face, and is usually very honest w/ me, that I almost believed him (especially since I was worried that my biga blunder might have hurt the dough in some way). Then I detected a slight upturn at the corners of his mouth and realized he was fibbing to me.
This focaccia was absolutely awesome!! This is our favorite focaccia by far, compared to the others I have made so far. It is incredibly light, even compared to the others I've made. Here are our first two slices, which we devoured, and then decided to finish off the whole thing, since it always tastes best straight from the oven the first day.