focaccia. who ever’d thought it would be so easy to make. and so easy to eat! this is the tale of a young woman’s adventures to northern michigan and back to detroit, coming out the other end with fingerling focaccia (homemade!) en tow. what could be better? some really yummy, melty cheese, slabbed inside a hunk of this, roasted tomatoes layered in. now there’s an idea…

i realized i had never traveled alone. well, that’s a lie. i travel alone all the time, but always to see family and friends. never to, well, just be. no longer can i claim such innocence! friends, family, foe alike, let it be known: i’ve tasted the fruit of solitary travel, and i like it!

my parents have a lovely place in northern michigan. (right now i am pointing to the mid-upper section of my left ring finger. this is how michiganders relate location in the great mitten state). i have been going up to this lake, in fact, since i was a kid. great family friends of ours have a place up north, too, which is how the meyer clan became introduced, seduced, and generally fell in love with the place. blue water, white birches, evergreens galore. even on cloudy, winter days, the turquoise blue calms and soothes.

 well, i decided it was about time that i went there. alone. sola. just me myself and i. i must admit, i am pretty entertaining! 

i went on a mission: not just did i want to be alone with that great lake, i also wanted to bake some focaccia. we have all these potatoes from our fresh food share. simultaneously, la grande’s lacked us some good bread for a good week now. solution? potatoes into bread! fingerlings spread on top! simplicity meets beauty meets fresh bread. (also, there’s a working dryer there. mission numero three? laundry.)

so saturday i dedicated my day around the bread making. ha, what an overstatement! this bread was really low maintenance, and the breaks between action gave me time to get creative in some other kitchen adventures, knit, read, and dance to some oldies.

left: a saute of carrots, celery, cabbage with a delightful egg. right: a new take on crisp

the trip? a success indeed. so much so i wasn’t sure i wanted to come back to detroit yesterday afternoon. but, it’s back reality. at least i’ve got some fingerling focaccia love.

potato thyme fingerling focaccia
adapted from gourmet

2 1/2 teaspoons (a 1/4-ounce package) active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 cups spelt flour2 cups mashed cooked russet (baking) potatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon salt
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 teaspoon crumbled dried thyme
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds small fingerling potatoes
1. In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast over 1 cup warm water and let it proof for 5 minutes, or until it is foamy. 
2. In a large bowl combine well 4 cups of the flour with the mashed potatoes and the salt until the mixture resembles coarse meal, add the yeast mixture, and stir the dough until it is combined well. 
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it, incorporating as much of the remaining 1/2 cup flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. 

4. Form the dough into a ball, put it in an oiled bowl, and turn it to coat it with the oil. Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place (i left mine on top of the dryer: killed two birds with one stone: clean, dry clothes and fresh bread!) for 1 1/2 hours, or until it is double in bulk. 

5. While the dough is rising, in a small bowl stir together the garlic, the thyme, and the oil and let the mixture stand, covered. 

6. Once dough’s doubled in size, turn the dough out into a well-oiled 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pan. i unfortunately could not find the jelly roll pan and used the bottom half of a broiling pan. made for a thicker focaccia.

7. Press it evenly into the pan, and let it rise, covered loosely, in a warm place (on top running dryer!) for 45 minutes or less, or until it is almost double in bulk. 
8. Using a mandoline or hand-held slicer (i actually used a vegetable peeler) cut the fingerling potatoes into paper-thin slices, arrange the slices on the dough, overlapping them. 
9. Brush with the oil mixture and sprinkle the focaccia with salt and pepper to taste.
10. Bake it in the bottom third of a preheated 400°F. oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it is golden. Let the focaccia cool in the pan on a rack and serve it warm or at room temperature.