Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens! I live in Maryland, why didn't I have today off work? Did you know there's actually a petition at the White House website to make the day after the Super Bowl a national holiday? Of course, there's also one urging them to build a Death Star. Really! Here is the White House's awesome official response.
I made the Focaccia for our Super Bowl non-party (It was just the three of us. No blowouts on a Sunday. It's a school night.) We had buffalo chicken nuggets, peppers, celery and carrots with ranch dressing, homemade brioche pretzels with mustard dip, and rosemary focaccia. Ian went to bed when the power went out at the stadium. Thanks to the mysterious force that turned out the lights in New Orleans, I didn't miss any of the second half. Thank you, mysterious force!
Speaking of uncontrollable forces, it seems like this recipe blew out a few mixer motors. I made the dough on Saturday, so I was checking the Tuesdays with Dorie message board to see if anyone had tips on the recipe. I noticed quite a few posts about over-worked mixers. As someone who has broken and repaired her mixer 3 times, I have learned some lessons:
- Wet dough is easier to mix. My KA mixer has a hard time with really stiff doughs. The first and second breaks were whole wheat bread and bagel dough. (The third time was a very stiff homemade fondant. It dried like cement. I don't want to talk about it.) Both doughs were pretty dry. Hold back the last half cup of flour and add it in only if necessary. It's easier on the mixer than mixing all the flour in and adding water.
- Less dough is easier to mix. Some recipes just have to much dough for my mixer's 5 quart bowl. In that case, mix the dough until you have a shaggy mass; then remove about half the dough. Let the mixer work on one half of the dough while you hand knead the other. Then swap the dough balls. Just be sure to hand knead the two balls together, so that it's thoroughly mixed. Yes, this is a pain. But so is finding a Kitchen-Aid certified repair shop in your area. Trust me.
- Shorter kneading time is easier on your mixer. Instead of mixing it all at once. Give your mixer, and your dough a break. This is called an autolyse. I didn't make this up. Really. Check it out at The Fresh Loaf. The wonderful bakers in this community are very generous with their knowledge and advice. You will be amazed at how different your dough will be after a 20 minute rest. And your KA will thank you. This technique works best with a wetter dough. So hold out that last half cup of flour.
I did just that when I mixed the focaccia and never added the flour back in. I'm used to working with a wetter dough. I really think it makes better bread. I encourage you to try it. It gets easier with practice.
I liked these focaccia, but it wasn't my absolute favorite. To be fair, I wasn't giving these my undivided attention. They got a cursory shaping and I forgot to spritz water in the oven during baking. I should probably try them again. I think my Kitchen Aid is up to it. What did you guys think? How did your mixers (or your arms) hold up?