Thursday 26 April 2012

Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia

Do you remember your very first taste of certain foods?  I do.  I certainly remember my first bite of focaccia.  It was in the early 1980's, at Pagliacci's in Victoria.  

Both the restaurant and the meal were a new experience for me.  I'd grown up in a small town, eating a diet of mostly English-Canadian cooking.  I'd had little experience with other cuisines and my ideas about Italian food were both clichéd and limited.  

I had my first reasonably authentic Italian meal at Pagliacci's, and my first taste of focaccia.  I still remember that first bite.  It was a revelation to me:  warm and fragrant, redolent of garlic, olive oil, and herbs.  

Victoria was not, at that time, a hot bed of Italian cuisine.  It was (and is) "more English than England" and, search as I might, I never did find a bakery that produced a focaccia that came anywhere near in quality to that first taste I'd experienced at the restaurant.  To this day, no bakery bread has matched it.

Finally I learned to make focaccia myself, from a recipe in "The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Three Ancient Cuisines" by Jeff Smith.  That recipe is still the basis for the focaccia I make today, although I have changed it around some and do experiment with different flavours.

I’m not a big fan of the focaccia I see in most bakeries and grocery stores, with the dried herbs sprinkled over the top.  The herbs seem to get kind of burnt and most of them fall off the top of the bread so you never get a chance to taste them.  I know it’s not traditional, but I prefer to taste the herbs on my focaccia so I put them inside the bread.  No burning or falling off that way. 

I flavour my focaccia with all sorts of things but I’ve found it best to limit myself to two or three flavours in any single loaf.  This time I chose to use rosemary (from the pot on my deck)  and garlic.

To make Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A 3-inch sprig of rosemary
  • 6 Tablespoons (3/8 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on top of the loaf
  • 3-1/4 cups bread flour
  • coarse salt for sprinkling on top of the loaf

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar into the water until dissolved.  Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the water and let it rest.

While the yeast is dissolving, chop the garlic very finely.  

Sprinkle the salt over the garlic and use the side of your knife to mash the salt and garlic into a paste.

Finely chop the rosemary.

When the yeast looks like this

Add the oil, flour, chopped rosemary, and garlic/salt paste in the order listed.  Mix and then knead the dough until it feels elastic, holds together well, and springs back when you touch it lightly with your finger.

Oil a bowl, put the dough in the bowl and turn it in the oil so that the dough is completely coated. 

Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and knead it a few times.

Oil a baking sheet or line it with parchment and then form the dough out into a large, thin rectangle or oval. 

Let the bread rise again until it’s doubled in volume. 

Once the bread has risen, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt.

Bake the focaccia at 375˚F until it’s golden brown and sounds hollow when lightly tapped.

Cool the bread on a rack.  Focaccia can be served either warm or cold and is often accompanied by extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, for dipping.

This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by The 21st Century Housewife and Premeditated Leftovers, to Think Pink Sundays hosted by Flamingo Toes, and to Church Suppers hosted by Everyday Mom's Meals, and to Making Mondays Marvelous hosted by C.R.A.F.T., and to Recipe Party @ The Sweet Spot hosted by The Sweet Spot and Crunchy Mamacita, to Link it up Wednesday hosted by {Junk in their Trunk}, and to Cast Party Wednesday hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain.

Gallery of Favorites     Everyday Mom's Meals  

  The Sweet Spot
{Junk in their Trunk}   Cast Party Wednesday


Marina said...

How wonderful! NOw I want to make it too. Thanks for the inspiration!

Annie at Haphazard Homestead said...

Sounds wonderful!

Aunt B said...

You're welcome. :) Enjoy!

Aunt B said...

Thanks Annie, and thank you for stopping by to check it out. :)

Christine said...

Oh my YUM!!!!

BTW.. I didn't see you link up at From Dream To Reality!

Aunt B said...

Thanks Christine, and thanks for bringing "From Dream to Reality" to my attention. I'll be sure to link up next week. :)

Krista said...

We love foccacia and yours looks delish! Thanks for sharing at Church Supper. Have a blessed week and please come back soon! ~EMM

Aunt B said...

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to share it.

Alecia @ ChickenScratch NY said...

I recently made foccacia from a different recipe, and all the stuff fell off! I'll have to make it again and put all the stuff inside (light bulb moment!). Thanks for sharing

Alecia @

Aunt B said...

Glad I could help with that. ;) Thanks for stopping by to check out the recipe.

April J Harris said...

I always enjoy foccacia, it is such a delicious bread. I like your technique of putting the herbs actually in the bread. I think the flavours would be more balanced that way as well. Garlic and rosemary taste so lovely together, I am sure your bread is scrumptious.

Aunt B said...

Thank you April, and thanks for hosting. I appreciate the opportunity to share my work. :)

Alea Milham said...

Your Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia looks lovely and delicious! Adding the herbs to the dough is a brilliant and flavorful idea.

Aunt B said...

Thanks Alea. :) Putting the herbs inside certainly makes it easier to eat!