Saturday, February 4, 2012

Rosemary Focaccia Bread with Just a Hint of Garlic

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for home-made Italian bread that turned out to be quite popular. Today we’re going to take it up a level and make one of my all-time favorite recipes: home-made Rosemary Focaccia Bread with Just a Hint of Garlic. Its savory taste and slightly chewy texture make focaccia (pronounced foh-KAH-chah) perfect for a wide range of toppings or fillings, as an accompaniment to a delicious meal, or even by itself, warmed and gently dipped in just a bit of olive oil!

As with most breads, most of the time required to make it is inactive time, during which the dough does the work and you don’t even have to be in the kitchen. So don’t let the amount of time described in the recipe deter you from one of the best breads you’ll ever have. Just take it step-by-step, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to have your kitchen graced by the aroma of a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven focaccia.

Cook’s Notes:
  • Although the basic recipe uses water, if you made the ricotta cheese recipe from a couple of weeks ago and still have the leftover whey, here’s a great place to use it. The recipe below explains both methods; if you decide to use the whey, I think you’ll be pleased at the flavor and texture it adds. (I sure was!)
  • The recipe calls for 2-1/2 pounds of bread flour. This is about 8 cups, but if you can it’s better to measure this out by weight.
  • While we’re on the subject, remember to use bread flour, not all-purpose flour. Bread flour has a higher gluten content that gives bread its characteristic firm texture. (For recipes such as focaccia, Italian bread and pizza dough, high-gluten flour, which has a gluten content even higher than bread flour, is even better to use, but that’s an ingredient you’re more likely to find in bulk at a restaurant supply house than in small packages at the supermarket.)

This recipe makes one baking sheet (half-sheet) size focaccia. (Once you taste it, you’ll be glad you made enough to go around!)

Combine 5 ounces of olive oil and 6 sliced cloves of garlic in a non-stick pan over medium heat and cook for a few minutes until the garlic is browned but not burnt. Remove and dispose of the garlic. Set the flavored oil aside for use in the rest of the recipe.

Whisk two 0.25 ounce packages of dry yeast into 1 cup of warm (about 110 degrees) water, and set it aside to rest for five minutes.

Combine 2-1/2 pounds (about 8 cups) of bread flour and 4 teaspoons of salt in a bowl and mix well. (When the yeast is added in the next step, you don’t want it to be in direct contact with the salt. This can damage the yeast.)

Form a large well in the flour mixture and pour in 3 cups of room temperature water (or three cups of whey) and three ounces of the olive oil. Whisk the liquids together to cool the oil, and then whisk in the yeast mixture. (Otherwise, the heat from the oil can damage the yeast.) Mix the liquids into the flour mixture to form a smooth, sticky dough. (If using a stand mixture, mix at low speed for about 4 minutes.)

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to ferment until at least doubled. (This usually takes an hour to about an hour and twenty minutes.)

Once the dough has doubled in size, use the garlic-flavored olive oil to oil a half-sheet pan. Transfer the dough onto the pan without folding the dough. Rubbing a bit of oil onto your hands, press and stretch the dough into the pan.

Pour the remaining flavored olive oil onto the dough and spread it around till the entire top of the dough is oiled.

Use your fingertips to make dimples over the entire surface of the dough.

Distribute 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt and ¾ cup of stemmed, fresh rosemary (about ¾ ounce unstemmed) evenly over the top of the dough, and press them down into the dough gently. Cover the focaccia with oiled plastic wrap and leave on the counter to “bench proof” until at least doubled in size. (This usually takes about an hour.)

Bake in a non-convection oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes until well-colored and baked through. Slide to a rack to cool. (And if you want to keep walking over to your focaccia and inhaling the heavenly aroma, that’s fine too!)

Buon appetito, i miei amici!

Visit again next week for a special in-time-for-Valentine’s Day recipe! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. can you make this in a breadmaker? it looks delish!


  2. Instead of discarding the garlic, do you think maybe putting the slices on top with the rosemary would be a good idea? Would it burn?

  3. Glad you like it, Alaina, and it is great to see you! I have never worked with a bread machine, but from what I understand about them an oven-baked dough recipe may not be the right one to use. One concern is the yeast which, for bread machines, is a special kind that is added directly to the dry ingredients, rather than being activated in the warm water of an oven recipe. Another is the capacity of the machine; I am told even large bread machines have a capacity of three cups of flour, whereas this recipe is more than twice that. You may be better off locating a focaccia recipe specifically for bread machines. I would love to know how it goes!

  4. Greetings, Amy! I would advise against using the garlic on top of the bread for a number of reasons. First, it gets a bit singed in the process of flavoring the oil - mine got a little crisp - so even before the bread is baked the garlic slices may not be suitable for adding back into the recipe. The additional heat would likely burn them. Second, a lot of the essence of the garlic has already gone into flavoring the oil, so the flavor the used slices offer would be greatly reduced. If you wanted a stronger garlic flavor in your focaccia, I would mince however much fresh garlic you wanted to add and put it on top of the dough when you add the kosher salt and rosemary. Let me know how it goes!

  5. The recipe is super easy so no need for a bread machine. I mixed mine by hand too and it came together very quickly.

  6. Thanks, Sandra! The first time I did a focaccia, I was surprised at how easy it is, and it remains one of my favorite things to make. Although I normally go with the traditional rosemary and salt topping, I love that there are so many other toppings that can be used.