Focaccia was one of the first breads that made me realize that I love to make bread. It is a very yeasty and olive oil drenched dough; the smell alone was enough to give me weak knees. I realized, shortly after, that the smell of all fresh doughs excited me. I enjoy making and working with dough more than I like to eat it, unfortunately I battle with standard kitchen ovens more than pizza and bread ovens, or even a combi-oven which also makes an incredible loaf of bread. After reading about the hand full of tricks to turning your oven into a good bread baking oven, I feel that the best way to bake an artisan loaf of bread is in a cast iron pot with a lid. It holds in the moisture coming off the dough and it creates and even heating environment inside.
1.5C Warm water
1C Sourdough starter
1/4C Olive Oil
1# 2oz Flour
2ea Rosemary stems (cleaned)
- Combine yeast, water, starter, and sugar. Allow the yeast to “bloom” for 10 minutes.
- Add oil, rosemary, and flour, mix by hand until the dough comes together.
- Add salt and mix until incorporated.
- Place the dough in a mixer and mix until the gluten have developed, about 7 minutes. You may need a little extra flour during the first couple minutes of mixing.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead to form a ball.
- Cover and let double in size, this should take no more than 20 minutes in a warm area.
- Oil your baking tray and dock the dough down with your fingers, try not to stretch the dough, and let the dough rest a few minutes in between docking. You want the dough to be about an inch thick.
- Bake at 350°F until done. To check for doneness, quickly tap the underside of the tray with your finger, you will be listening for a hollow sound.
Since my recent explorations into black garlic, I figured that I would make a loaf of black garlic focaccia, and since I didn’t pay $26 a pound for it, it was a good venture. For the black garlic focaccia I omitted the rosemary, which you could probably keep, and added four cloves of black garlic, which I smashed with my knife. For this batch, I made my focaccia dough a little wetter than normal and treated it like a ciabatta when it cames to working the gluten. This also allowed for the yeast to develop more and gives you a tastier loaf of bread.
Follow the first three steps from above then knead as follows:
- Place the dough in a bowl and let sit covered with plastic in a warm area for 30 minutes.
- Fold the dough over itself after 30 minutes, cover and let set for an additional 60 minutes.
- Repeat the previous step, except this time, let the dough rest for 1 hour.
- Flour your hands, your work surface, and the dough, this next step gets a little messy. Roll the dough out onto your workstation and fold it similar to ciabatta.
- Oil your baking tray and place the focaccia on the tray, seam side down, and dock the same as above.
- Drizzle with oil and let double; this takes about eight minutes.
- Sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.
- Bake at 350°F until done.
A new batch of garlic has almost finished and I have found something very interesting. I started by buying 5# of garlic to see how large batches would turn out. I then bought two rectangle cake pans to use as my vessels, and some stacking drying racks to put the garlic on. I loaded up the two pans with the garlic, a single layer, do not stack or it could cause uneven “cooking”. I then put a piece of foil on top of the pans and then wrapped them very well with plastic to ensure that the moisture would stay in the pan. After 30 days I ended up with incredible results, the garlic was a deep black, smelled great, and didn’t have any bit of bitter to it. Unfortunately it was only to the top pan, the pan underneath didn’t get the proper heat, so that pan went back in to cook for a little longer. But to find that the pan on top was beyond perfect is amazing to me, I removed the garlic from the pan and set it on the drying rack, which will remain there for a few days. Below are some pictures of the garlic before it has been dried and a picture of the new setup.
Since the day I paid $30 a pound for black garlic I was mesmerized by the process and the flavor. I wanted to know how it was done and how I could do it myself. The actual process is posted vaguely all over the internet but the creator of the name brand Black Garlic has kept his process a secret. He has built a patented “machine” to produce this garlic that has been kept quiet, at least I haven’t seen any information on it. So after reading numerous posts about making black garlic I decided to tackle this project, and since I had and old hood fan from my stove and a non-functional wine cooler, I figured I could build a warming box to re-create black garlic. Using these two items and a thermostat I was able to build a heating box where my garlic could stay nice and warm to allow fermentation. The whole heads of garlic were placed into glass mason jars, which may not be the best choice but at this point it was the best option until I understood what was going on. After a few trial runs I realized that the garlic would ferment and turn brown with little effort in about 30 days. After a full 40 days, which is the amount of time to ferment the garlic, I found that it never turned black. I removed the lids of the mason jars to see if that would help in any way, and after 15 days of that my garlic was black and hard as a rock. This rock hard garlic made me realize that I had built a very large-scale dehydration box, and that the garlic was in the open air too long. I immediately rushed to the store and bought more garlic to start the second round of fermenting. This time I had four different tests going to figure out when and how long the garlic needed to dry for. After 40 days the end results were beautiful, I had two products that were black, one that was brownish black, and one that was black and hard as a rock.
At the end I had three usable products out of four, which is pretty good, I used the soft and dark cloves in sauces and marinades, and the hard dried out garlic was ground up in a spice grinder to make a very pungent black garlic powder. This powder did great in rubs for pork and chicken, and did great when dehydrated in pasta dough. The color of the dough was a dull brown so I added mushroom powder to it as well to get a very nice natural looking mushroom pasta. With all of this being said, I am happy with the product and will continue to produce as much as I can. There are still a few different techniques that I want to try but until then here is the “recipe”.
What you need
- Warming box that can hold 140°F consistently
- Quart sized mason jars
- Garlic Bulbs
- Aluminum Foil
- 40 days of patience
- Start by sterilizing all of your mason jars, you will need one mason jar per bulb of garlic, you do not want to stack or cram the garlic into the jars. The warm air needs to flow evenly around the bulbs of garlic.
- Place a bulb of garlic in each mason jar and put the lid on finger tight. You do not want it too loose or the moisture from the garlic will escape.
- Wrap each jar with aluminum foil, this will ensure that the light doesn’t affect the product and will help keep the heat even in the glass jars.
- Place the jars in the warming box and keep the heat at 140°F for 30 days.
- After the thirty days are up remove the foil and lids of the mason jars, there will be a little pressure built up in the jar, the garlic will be a light brown color, and should smell sweet.
- Put the garlic back into the warming box without the lids for 10 more days, this will allow the garlic to dehydrate and concentrate the flavor.
- At the end of the 10 days remove one clove from a bulb of garlic and make sure that it has reduced in size by more than half. If not, then continue to dehydrate for 1-2 more days.
- Once it is black and the proper consistency remove the bulbs from their jar and let them air dry overnight on the kitchen counter. Store in the fridge or in a Ziploc bag in a cool and dark place until ready to use.
There are so many uses for this product and I have posted a few uses throughout my blog.
After another forty day cycle of fermenting garlic I was very eager to see how it turned out. From my last posts you can see the different process’ that I used to achieve this wonderful product. Of my four test subjects I have two that I am very happy with, and they all gave me great info for starting the next batch. Below are the pictures of the final products.
The test on the far left was my favorite, followed by the one on the right. After the 40 days they both ended up with very close drying times. The sample on the bottom has a significantly shorter time to dry over the forty days, and the top sample dried to the point to where it is rock solid. I plan on turning the hard sample into a powder to use in pasta dough, breads, and infusing oils. Again you can see my previous posts, Round 1 and Round 2 on the whole process of making black garlic.
I have about twelve days left on the black garlic and all of the cloves are looking very promising. The third set is the only one that I am concerned about right now because the cloves are very dry but they do have that nice concentrated look to them. The fourth set has not been opened yet so they continue to look like the original batch of garlic that I made. I am very excited for this batch to be done so I can start producing larger batches!
I should probably get serious every time I start these experiments, as I am not the type of person that likes to do things multiple times, but then again that doesn’t sound like much fun. So here goes the second round of black garlic, I am a week into it and have created many different conditions to hopefully yield a successful product in 40 days. With the first round of experimenting I found that I got the flavor and the aroma of black garlic, but not the distinct color that it is named for. That brings me to four different variables to allow the garlic to dry and concentrate in flavor.
The setup includes eight half pint mason jars with lids and my drying cabinet which you can see in the first round of experimenting. For the second round I have divided up the jars into four separate tests, with two bulbs of garlic in each one jar labeled A and the other B, which is how I will refer to them. All of the bulbs will be in the box for 40 days, but at certain times they will have their lids removed to allow the garlic to dry and concentrate in flavor. My drying times are as follows:
First set: 8 days with the lid and 2 days without, 8 days of drying total over the full 40.
Second set: 7 days with the lid and 3 without, 12 days of drying total.
Third set: 5 days with the lid and 5 without, 20 days of drying total.
Fourth set: 30 days with the lid and 10 days without.
All of the jars labeled A will be sprayed with water before their lid’s get put back on after each drying period, and jars B will not. The idea is to dry them but still keep the cloves moist. By adding a little water after drying I know that the cloves won’t dry hard. What I don’t know is if the garlic will have enough of its own moisture near the end of the test to not need any more added water, which is why I am trying the two variations.