March 17, 2010

Focaccia (B&P42)

For the last three months, we've been living and working out of a temporary home in Michigan. My husband's on location contribution to a project here is nearing it's end. So, we've been trying to cram in all the Great Lakes tourist destinations that we can manage.

This past weekend, we headed off to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan.  We had a lot of fun climbing hills, falling into the snow, banging up our knees, and taking pictures.  Then we headed off to the lakeshore to look for rocks and fossils, plus seeing the lighthouses. Last, we cruised the coastline of the Grand Traverse Bay and looked at all the different birds frolicking in the frigid water.

I do have to admit that our little trips have been a bit challenging to coordinate. When you travel with  kids, our dog and our various food issues, it can feel like a major war campaign just to go on a weekend getaway not to mention the two week vacation. We've been spoiled by the abundance of pet friendly hotels that are abundant on the eastern seaboard and in the south. Little did we realize that heading out into the forest lands of Michigan, that our hotel search would be more troublesome than our gluten free food planning.

I did use a couple of resources for this trip that proved to be pretty helpful, the Bed Bug Registry and Trip Advisor. I even used Google images to check for pictures of hotels, motels, plus bed & breakfast locations. After a great deal of searching, I located a family and pet friendly hotel in Traverse City, the Baymont Inn & Suites. It was a perfect lodging point for our trip and there were plenty of restaurants to try and negotiate a gluten free meal. 

If you come out to Michigan to visit the Great Lakes, be aware that many lodging locations and tourist destinations are closed for the winter. The National and State Parks are mostly open, but have limited accessibility due to heavy snowfall. If you are interested in cross country skiing, snow shoeing or snow mobiling these are great destinations. Otherwise, you'll need to wait until there is enough of a thaw to allow for easier access to the trails.

To get us on the road, I made a loaf of focaccia drizzled with olive oil. fresh oregano and dotted with Kalamata olives. It was the perfect type of road food, easy to handle and not messy to eat. Delicious!



Protein Content
Original Amount: 43.94 g
GF Amount: 43.302 g


15 g brown rice flour (1.35 g)
14 g sweet rice flour (0.84 g)
14 g arrowroot starch (0.042 g)
22 g almond meal (4.4 g)
20 g white bean flour (4.3 g)
1 g instant dry yeast (120 - 130 degrees F/48 - 54 degrees C)

50 ml water
10 ml agave sweet

Final Dough

50 g brown rice flour (4.5 g)
40 g sweet rice flour (2.4 g)
40 g arrowroot starch (0.12 g)
73 g almond meal (14.6 g)
50 g white bean flour (10.75 g)
6 g chia seed meal
4 g agar agar powder
12 g instant dry yeast
7 g sea salt
126 g biga (from above)
15 g agave syrup
23 g olive oil
135 ml water (120 - 130 degrees F/48 - 54 degrees C)
Optional Toppings: fresh herbs, olives, roasted tomato slices, sauteed garlic or onion slices.

Biga Directions

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flours, water, agave syrup and yeast. Mix together, making sure the mixture is smooth. Cover the mixture or transfer to a container and allow to ferment at 75 degrees F/24 degrees C for 18 to 24 hours. When the biga is ready to use, it will have risen and receded, yet also look bubbly.

Final Dough Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients with the exception of the salt and yeast. Hold the salt out, so it can be added later in the mixing. Place the yeast into a small container, add the water and a little bit of the agave syrup. Stir to ensure the water mixes through the yeast. Allow the yeast to proof for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the yeast mixture, biga, the rest of the agave syrup and blend together. Just before the dough comes together, sprinkle in the salt and then continue blending until a soft ball forms. Note: This dough should be a little looser than other types of doughs.

3. Place the dough in the center of a sheet of parchment paper that has been sprinkled with arrowroot starch. Gently pat the dough out into an 8-inch/20 cm circle and brush with olive oil. Slide the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and place in a warm location to rise for 2 hours. Brush the focaccia with olive oil again and cover with your choice of toppings.

4. Place an oven proof bowl filled with water on the bottom shelf of the oven. Then place a baking stone on the top shelf. Preheat the oven to 460 degrees F/238 degrees C. Place the loaf in the oven and spray water over the oven box and the top of the loaf. Bake the loaf for 15 minutes. Prop the oven door open and continue to cook the bread for another 10 minutes. Remove the loaf and allow it to cool before serving.

What's Going On?

I was a very lucky woman and received a copy of the Culinary Institute of America's Baking & Pastry book along with their culinary dvd's from my family for my birthday and our anniversary. After watching all the DVDs, I decided to work my way through the CIA's Baking and Pastry book - of course making it gluten free. There were so many skills that I wanted to develop and work on. I hope you will be interested in sharing my journey with me.

Want more?

You can follow me on Twitter and on Flickr.

Other Baking & Pastry Project Posts
Index of the Baking & Pastry Project

Baking & Pastry Week 21 - A Biga & A Sourdough Starter
Baking & Pastry Project #41 - Ciabatta (Biga)
Baking & Pastry Project #40 - Rosemary Bread (Biga)
Baking & Pastry Project Week 20 - More Bigas
Baking & Pastry Project #39 - Cracked Rice & Potato Bread (Biga)
Baking & Pastry Project #38 - Almond & White Bean Batard (Biga)
Baking & Pastry Project Week 19 - Bigas


Alan said...

This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.


Alan said...

This is a very interesting blog and so i like to visit your blog again and again. Keep it up.


maggie said...

Thank you for the recipe I try it on my own someday for my mom

Tiara said...

This looks amazing! I've spent the last hour checking out all the breads you've been making. This in one heroic feat in the GF bread world! Not only are the breads beautiful, but they are nutritious!

I can't wait til I have the time to tackle one of these recipes... I've yet to meet a GF bread I actually liked, so I do without. A piece of focaccia bread drizzled in olive oil, or a sandwich piled high on thick slices of sourdough bread would be heaven!

Shelley said...

Great recipe! Kinnikinnick has an article on their blog about food and non-food products which have gluten “hidden” within them – like soy sauce and sun screen! Some good food for thought… Thanks, Shelley | Kinnikinnick Foods

secretmonk said...

Hi Natalie!

I'd love to send you some info about a Gluten-Free retreat that I think you and your readers may be interested in. Is there an email address I could forward something along to? Please see for an overview. My email is



Christine said...

I see that you’re interested and fascinated in food stuffs. This is awesome Biga recipe. You see, we have this food site ( that is a food and cooking encyclopedia that everyone and anyone can edit. Maybe you are interested in sharing some of recipes to us or share your knowledge about food stuffs and techniques, or maybe you just like to write reviews about food, restaurant and recipes...why don't you visit us sometimes, if its food you're interested in, then we are interested in you. Don't hesitate to check us out. And by the way, If you won't mind I'd love to guide Foodista readers to this post. Just add the Foodista Widget
to the end of this post and it's all set, Thanks!

I hope to see you there.