Summer’s heat demands an efficient baking schedule, or suffer the steamy-kitchen consequences. Inspired by the arrival of my Entergy bill, I decided to combine bread & cookie baking this morning. Biscotti require two trips through the oven, with a resting/cooling and slicing before the second bake. Thus, a neat 20-minute window of opportunity exists–the hot, empty oven is ready to receive a pan of foccacia.
First, make the foccacia dough–a straight dough made with yeast, flour, water, olive oil, and salt will be delicious without a lenghty ferment, thanks to the olive oil and toppings. Just allow it to rise until doubled, then spread onto a baking sheet, add toppings, and proof for 25-35 minutes (it will slowly spring back when poked with a fingertip). I topped the full- sheet foccacia with rosemary and sea salt, and I pinched off a small piece of dough to top with whole cherry tomatoes as a cook’s treat (the baked results can be seen above).
While the foccacia makes its second rise, make the biscotti dough and bake. Nut biscotti are a favorite cookie at my house–good fresh, tasty with coffee, and still toothsome a week or more later. I tried out Dorie Greenspan’s Lenox almond biscotti (p 141, Baking: From My Home to Yours), which is an adaptation of the biscotti at the Lenox Room in NYC. The very soft dough includes a sizeable portion of cornmeal, lending an earthy crunch. I substituted toasted, chopped hazelnuts for the almonds.
When the biscotti are lightly golden brown (about 20 minutes), remove from the oven and increase the temp to 375. Slide in the focaccia and bake for 25-30 minutes. While the foccacia bakes, allow the biscotti to cool for 10 minutes on the pan. Transfer, gently, to a cutting board and slice into 1 1/2 inch sticks. The cornmeal dough is delicate–use a sharp knife and cut carefully through the hazelnuts. Return the slices to the pan, turning sideways. When the focaccia is done, reduce the oven heat to 350 and bake the sliced biscotti for 15 minutes, until browned and crisp.
While waiting for the biscotti to finish, I snacked on the cherry tomato & black pepper focaccia.
All in all, I ended up with a pretty good haul for a short time in the hot kitchen. It was still hot, though….I think I’ll have to resort to all-outdoor baking until October.