Although I don’t do a great deal, I do like bread cooked in the Big Green Egg – and bread cooking in the Large BGE is a real pleasure (more of that in future posts). I had always been told that bread cooking in the MiniMax was something of a compromise – though I know Adam from The Cook’s Digest has had some really great results with the MiniMax. Nevertheless, I have not heard of anyone cooking bread in the Mini BGE and I am sure for good reason!! However, we were away on holiday, we only had the Mini BGE with us and so there was the challenge!!
The real problem with bread cooking in the Mini and MiniMax BGE is getting the bread as far away from the charcoal heat source and into the “dome” so that the heat differential between the bottom and top of the bread is minimised. Otherwise, it is burnt bottoms and undercooked tops! Making it worse we only had the platesetter with us and no sort of pizza stone to further separate the bread from the direct heat!! Our plan therefore was to use the platesetter in the feet up position with the cast iron grill in place. On top of this we put a couple of 3 inch cast iron frying pans that we just happened to have with us in place of the pizza stone. This lifted the bread a little further from the heat source and a little further into the dome. The bread would be initially cooked in a heavy round 7 inch pan and once “firm enough” flipped over – to cook the top a little more and the base a little less!!
Focaccia is probably one of the easiest of all breads to make and cook and as we were in Italy and had enough challenges with the BGE set-up, that was where we were going to start! Getting the flour was easy enough, but hunt the local supermarket as much as I could, I couldn’t find any yeast – but then I was looking for dried yeast as I use at home. This is Italy, and so every supermarket – no matter how small clearly sells fresh yeast – you just need to know where to look or how to ask!
The Recipe was a simple one which is shown below and has very few ingredients. Focaccia flour (also suitable for pizza bases), fresh yeast, olive oil, water, sugar or honey, salt and rosemary. The basic ingredients were mixed by hand in a bowl and kneaded for 5 mins. As the BGE is small – the quantities were kept small so around 250gm of flour, to 150 ml of warm water and about 7gm of fresh yeast (these were all guessed as we had no scales or measures to hand). This was then left to rise in a bowl covered with oiled clingfilm for around an hour and then knocked back. Taking less than half the bread dough, this was flattened into the base of the 7 inch pan. Olive oil was poured liberally over the dough and then it was “prodded all over with fingers” to flatten further and introduce the oil into the dough. Finally the top was salted with large grains of sea salt and sprinkled with fresh rosemary from the garden. The dough was left to rise again for about 20 mins.
Meanwhile the BGE was set up and a little home cured pork was fried off in a small pan on the Egg, to which was added some finely chopped onion and some garlic – for use later.
The BGE was then set as described above and when the temperature reached 180C the 7 inch pan, with the focaccia, was put in the Egg and left for around 20 mins to bake.
Once the base was clearly browning the focaccia was flipped out and put back in upside down and cooked for a further 4-5 mins to brown off the top. All that was left was to remove it, allow to cool a little and sprinkle with some more oil and serve
– fresh bread cooked in the Mini BGE!!
But why the frying pan and the onions and garlic? – well Focaccia’s close cousin is the French “Fougasse” the same dough as Focaccia but often made into a leaf shape with slashes in the leaf like those falling off the trees in autumn.
Sometimes their shapes are a lot more “rustic” and often they have meat, onions, cheese ….. running through them. So that was our plan. Cook off a little cured pork with some onion and garlic, flatten out the dough and add the fried mixture and some crumbled cheese – roll the whole thing up into a ball and pop it in the 7inch pan dish to rise a little.
Then into the Egg to cook and when firm enough, flip out of the dish and cook ‘free standing”, flipping it over so the base didn’t cook too much. Then it was taken out of the Egg and allowed to cool a little, ideally on a wire rack or something similar.
……………served with a ‘bold red wine’ – beautifully simple!
Rustic Focaccia and Fougasse
Simple focaccia recipe used for focaccia and fougasse
- 250g Focaccia flour
- 7gm fresh yeast
- 150ml warm water
- Glugs of Olive oil
- Teaspoon of salt
- Teaspoon of Honey
- For the fougasse filling, cooked onion, garlic, cured pork, cheese
- Step 1 Set up BGE with the platesetter feet up, the cast iron grill in place and something to raise the bread further into the dome
- Step 2 Suspend the yeast in 150ml of warm water and add the honey.
- Step 3 Put the focaccia flour in a bowl and pour the ‘yeast water’ into the centre and mix to bring it together
- Step 4 Part way through sprinkle in the salt and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Step 5 Once the dough is in a ball – kneed into a smooth dough for about 5 mins
- Step 6 Leave to rise in an oiled bowl covered with some oiled clingfilm for about an hour
- Step 7 Knock back the dough and split into two
- Step 8 Flatten half the bread into the base of the 7inch pan, pour olive oil liberally over it and “prod” all over with fingers to flatten and introduce the oil into the dough.
- Step 9 Salt the top of the bread with large grains of sea salt and sprinkle with fresh rosemary.
- Step 10 Leave to rise for about 20 mins.
- Step 11 When the BGE reaches 180C add the pan with the dough and cook for around 20 mins – Once the base is browning flip out and put back in upside down and cook for a further 4-5 mins to brown off the top.
- Step 12 For the Fougasse – fry some small pieces of cured pork a little onion and garlic.
- Step 13 Flatten out the dough and add the fried mixture and some crumbled cheese – roll the whole thing up into a ball and pop into a 7 inch pan to rise a little.
- Step 14 Cook in the Egg and when firm enough flip out of the dish and cook ‘free standing”
- Step 15 Take it out of the Egg and allow to cool a little
- Step 16 Serve perhaps with a ‘bold red wine’