I'm finally feeling back in the swing of things with the BBA Challenge. I had an English Muffin flop a couple of months ago that put me into a bread baking slump. But after my second - and very successful - attempt, I'm happy to say that I'm back in the bread baking groove.
Actually, I made the focaccia several months ago when I had some leftover poolish that I needed to use up. The last two pictures are of my first batch. With that focaccia, I used all unbleached white flour, and topped the bread with basil oil. It was so long ago I honestly don't remember many fine details of it, but I do remember loving it. We made lots of sandwiches with it and it was gone in about 1 1/2 days.
I didn't have any poolish around this time, so I thought I'd give the non-poolish version a shot. I also wanted to use part whole wheat flour - I used 2 cups whole wheat and 3 cups unbleached white.
Once you've had homemade focaccia, store-bought - even bakery-bought in many cases - is basically inedible. This is delicate and tender and flavorful, as opposed to tough and dry and bland.
I can't say that I have a preference one way or the other between the two versions I made. I loved them both. I will say that the non-poolish version doesn't require a preferment, so you don't have to plan ahead when you decide to make it. It does require an overnight rest in the fridge, however, so you will still have to wait a day before enjoying this delightful yeasted creation.
The recipe for this focaccia can be found in The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. If you don't already have this book you should put it on your holiday wish-list, because it is amazing.