4.21.15 Ramp Focaccia Bread
Still being quite early in the season, produce is not as abundant as it will be at the height of the season. Nonetheless, I managed to come through with some pretty awesome finds. Most importantly though, were the ramps.
Ramps, or wild leeks, are delicious, and sadly only available for a short window of time in early spring. That means, once ramps are in season, you’ve got to buy or forage as many as you can, because in just a few short weeks, they’ll be gone. Once you have some, you won’t be disappointed by the many delicious ways they can be used. Scrambled with eggs, cooked into carbonara, simmered into risotto, baked into scones - all delicious. You can make the tops into pesto, and pickle the bulbs. Or, you can do what I did and bake them into a lovely, golden, focaccia bread.
Focaccia, after all, being one of the best types of bread due to its big moist crumb, crispy golden olive oil-y edges, and the ability to add toppings. While I could have gone all out and added a myriad of other toppings to this glorious bread (herbs! parmesan cheese!), I decided in the end to exhibit some restraint and just let the ramps shine. After tasting the final result, I knew I’d made the right decision.
Ramp Focaccia Bread
serves about 12
As a math nerd, I had way too much fun developing this recipe, as it required a lot of calculations to achieve the just the right texture. I decided to start the dough with a pre-ferment (or sponge) and opted for high hydration (around 65%) in the dough, to achieve a big bubbly texture. The result is a very wet dough, which is slightly messy to work with, but the results are well worth it. Oh yes, and high hydration means no kneading, which is definitely a plus. The sponge will need to sit overnight, so plan accordingly.
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- ½ tsp active dry yeast
bread and assembly:
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- cup warm water
- ½ cup olive oil, divided
- 7-8 ramps, cleaned and roots cut off base of bulbs
- freshly ground black pepper
- flaky sea salt
1. Make the sponge. Combine all of the sponge ingredients in a large bowl and stir to mix together. Mixture should look like thick pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 3-4 hours (mixture should look bubbly). Place bowl in refrigerator overnight.
2. The next day, take the sponge out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temp for about 30 minutes.
3. Make your bread dough. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast. Stir in the sponge, water, and ¼ cup olive oil. Stir until everything is mixed cohesively (dough will be very wet). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours.
4. After dough has risen for 2 hours, coat a high-sided sheet pan with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Pour dough into the pan, and use a spoon, or well oiled hands to spread dough to the edges of the pan. If you’re having trouble, let the dough rest for about 5 minutes to relax, then keep working it out to the edges of the pan. The dough’s wetness, as well as the oil coating the pan will help it to spread as well.
5. Once dough is spread out evenly in the pan, coat the surface with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil and arrange your ramps on top. I arranged them vertically, alternating root and leaf sides up and down, so that each piece of bread would include both bulbs and leaves. Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour at room temp.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle dough evenly with freshly ground black pepper and flaky sea salt.
7. Bake bread in the middle rack of the oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating pan 180 degrees halfway through baking.
8. Allow bread to cool slightly, slice into squares and enjoy