Notes On A Flatbread: Act Two

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Notes On A Flatbread: Act Two

I’m fighting the urge to flog myself over this recipe, maybe get myself to the nearest confessional and beg forgiveness for failing Dan again … particularly after seeing that most people are producing cookery book perfect focaccia. Mine looks lovely and golden, and yes it did have crunchy crust that I could only dream of prior to this, but all that said … what I have is a very photogenic creation that gave me a whopping case of indigestion because it was too rich from the olive oil. Dan’s fault? Certainly not. It’s my fault entirely.

How much olive oil qualifies under the term “generous” — a tablespoon, 100ml, a supertanker full? Obviously not as much as I used. My focaccia had a hint of roadside-café fried bread about it because it sizzled away in the oven awash with olive oil. I see that Carl Legge used water for stretching and folding, and parchment paper during baking. Another challenger mentioned she might use flour instead of oil during the stretching and folding process because she interpreted ‘generous’ too generously also.

Unlike my first attempt, several things did go better. I adjusted the amount of water to correspond with Dan’s recipe in the Guardian rather than “Short and Sweet” because the hydration rate in the book is 56% as opposed to 68% in the Guardian article. This, in my opinion, explains the pillow-flatbread result from my first attempt. I must say that the 56% hydration recipe produced a darned tasty loaf of bread though – it just wasn’t flatbread.

I’m going to give this recipe one more try this week, and if it still makes me look like a monkey in the kitchen,  I shall shout to the heavens “croutons!”


After second rise. Even at this point, there was too much olive oil.


This time I pushed my fingers all the way to the base of the pan and then tugged the dough toward me to make large holes that would rise into dimples.


A picture pretty much says it all. The crumb was not worth writing home about, that’s for sure.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. This has been such an entertaining recipe. My first attempt went awry when a migraine intervened after the 1st stretch in the bowl and all I could do was shove it in the fridge. You will see what happened with the 2nd attempt tomorrow but let’s say that I fell asleep at the wrong time…

    We shall conquer this recipe – courage, mon brave and all that.

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I’m running out of neighbours and friends who will gladly accept my offerings of fresh bread. The dog is keen though.

      I look forward to your report on the 2nd attempt. Onwards. And that.

  2. Carl Legge says:

    Hi Misk
    As I’ve said on my blog, your tenacity is admirable. I really think you can allow yourself to be kinder to yourself though. A lot of the feel for this sort of thing comes from loads of baking and getting experience ‘in private’ 🙂 You are doing just great.

    A word on the hydration and exposing my nerdy side here. I’m looking at producing sourdough with different veg in them. Obviously the veg will affect the development of the gluten, and also add water. So how much water to leave out. I checked the average water content of potato which is 75%. So the hydration of this bread is closer to 88% which is why is so sticky and soft. Obviously, different varieties of potato, the time of year, growing and storing conditions will affect the actual water content. But this dough is closer to 89% than 60%.

    Keep having fun 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I’ll allow other people to be kind. I’m not much for patting myself on the back, tooting horns, etc. 😉 So in that regard, thank you for your kind comments. The support and guidance is always appreciated! x

      My hydration comparison is based on straight-across-the-board recipe ingredient lists. Both identical in every way except for what I suspect is a typo in the amount of water. The book lists 50ml less than the Guardian recipe. It’s like a shoe is a shoe is a shoe unless it’s half a size too small, and then it becomes a right pain. 😀

      I hope to give this baby another try during the week. I need to stop burping olive oil first….

      1. Carl Legge says:

        LOL, I see where you’re coming from on the hydration point. Regardless of what the total hydration actually is, the extra 50ml will make 12.5% of difference. Only Dan can say, but my guess is that the book recipes were heavily tested prior to printing to achieve good results. I think on this one, the flour types make a big difference. One of the joys of bread baking, trying to work out which variable(s) are producing the effects 😀

        Have you tried a lighted match on the burps? Could be quite a money spinner this time of year…

        1. Misk Cooks says:

          You do so make me laugh. Money spinner, indeed. 😀

  3. hotlyspiced says:

    Well…you got a very entertaining story out of this experience anyway. I’ve heard these breads are very difficult to make and that you can’t expect perfection until at least the 100th attempt. So don’t be too hard on yourself!

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Managed a total success with this recipe today. So delicious! Here’s how it went: http://wp.me/p1AEg4-eA

  4. Joanna says:

    Unfortunately the section on Dan’s forum which used to house the discussions of these recipes in their original versions is being spring-cleaned, so we could well be going over old ground here in our thoughts. I had a look last night on his forum to see if I could find some of the threads on hydration, of which there are many, and some I have contributed to, but I find it very hard to ‘lay my mouse on them’. It’s never easy searching forums which is a shame, because there is a wealth of information on that one 🙂

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I’m going to have a look through his forum tomorrow. I am a member but I’ve never participated on the boards. At the time I was a bit overwhelmed by all the knowledge being knocked about there. I’m a little less intimidated now. 😀 I have an oracle, that’s why….

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