It’s funny what inspires you to bake, sometimes. This Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia was inspired by some really, really mediocre bread that I was served at an Italian restaurant recently. It is completely unlike that bread, and it was the fact that I was wishing for some good focaccia with lots of garlicky olive oil that make me come home and bake my own.
I started out with a plain focaccia dough that had a little bit of olive oil in it, and added in fresh rosemary and sauteed garlic to give it a little more of a savory flavor. Both elements really complement the olive oil’s fruitiness. The finished focaccia isn’t the thick, cut-in-half-to-make-sandwiches focaccia. It is thinner and bakes up to be soft in the center and crisp around the edges. For me, this is the perfect kind of focaccia for dipping into seasoned olive oil when you want a snack before dinnertime.
It doesn’t take too long to make this bread from start to finish, but you will need to allow some time for the bread to rise, so if you want to serve it with dinner it is best to start a couple hours ahead of time. While I used fresh, you can easily substitute dried spices into this recipe and still get a good result. Use about 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary and 1 tsp garlic powder. I don’t like to overdo it when I’m using dried spices in breads because they can go from subtle to overwhelming pretty quickly. This bread is at its best when it is freshly made, but you can store the leftovers in an airtight container, then pop them in the oven for 5 minutes at 350F to crisp it up again the next day.
Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia
2 cloves garlic
3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (.25 oz)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
additional olive oil and coarse salt
Finely mince garlic using a sharp knife or a garlic press. In a small saute pan over medium heat, saute garlic with a little bit of olive oil until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a small dish and allow to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine bread flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Whisk to combine. Add in olive oil and water, sauteed garlic and chopped rosemary and stir with a large wooden spoon until dough comes together into a ball. Add an additional tablespoon or two of water if dough is too dry to form into a ball easily. Stir until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. (All of this may be done in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook).
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes (You can also knead the dough with the dough hook on medium-low for 3-4 minutes).
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Lightly grease an 8×12-inch baking pan (or a sheet pan) with olive oil. Turn dough out onto pan and press gently outwards with your fingertips, spreading the dough as you go, until it has evenly filled the pan. Pressing with your fingertips instead of kneading preserves the bubbles in the dough.
Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Brush dough with 1 tbsp additional olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until bread is well browned.
Place bread on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Makes 1 focaccia.