About a week ago a friend posted a picture of a beautiful pan of focaccia bread. And I had to make it. There are lots and lots of recipes for focaccia bread on line. The recipes almost all have lots of olive oil and herbs. Some have olives, cheeses, tomato, bits of bacon or vegetables…the possibilities are endless. Focaccia bakes up a little crispy on the outside (I’m sure due to all the olive oil) and soft on the inside. It is a yeasted flat bread that I believe originated in Italy. Originally focaccia was cooked in wood fired ovens which would obviously be wonderful…adding that smoky flavor to all of the garlic and herbs. My fascination with this particular loaf was the flower garden of vegetables. Focaccia is a really easy bread to make and creating the garden was just a bonus! And who doesn’t like some warm bread fresh from the oven??
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 T fresh)
1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 T fresh)
fresh ground black pepper
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/4 tsp honey
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
In a small cold skillet, combine the olive oil, rosemary and thyme, black pepper and garlic. I combined the rosemary, thyme and black pepper in my mortar to bring out the flavors before adding them to the oil.
Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until oil is aromatic being careful not to brown the garlic. If the garlic is browned it can give off a bitter, off-putting taste. Set the oil aside and allow to cool. You don’t want to add it into the flour and yeast mixture when it is too hot or you will kill the yeast.
Combine warm water, yeast and honey in a large bowl. Stir to combine and let sit for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of garlic and herb infused oil and 1 cup of flour to the yeast and stir until flour has been moistened. Allow it to rest another 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining flour and salt until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a half dozen times until the dough is smooth.
Put the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, set in a warm place, and allow to rise for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450.
Spread 2 T of the garlic and herb oil in a 9×13 baking sheet. Take the dough and press it down onto the baking sheet. Use your fingers to dimple the dough and then drizzle 2 T of the garlic and herb oil on top of the dough.
Let rise for about 20 minutes until slightly puffed. When the 20 minutes starts we have the fun part! Get out your flower making produce.
Use your imagination. Anything goes.
Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. As you can see, the bread looked a little prettier before it was baked. But pretty cool nonetheless.
The house still smells wonderful from the herb and garlic infused oil and the bread was delicious. I used a partial clove of garlic in my rasping bowl, added a little olive oil, and we dipped the bread. Had some for lunch and will be enjoying some tonight with eggplant Parmesan.
This beautiful rasping bowl was purchased from LaTulip Pottery and Tile Works in Garden, MI. LaTulip Pottery is on facebook if you want to look them up. I originally purchased a rasping bowl at a little gift shop in Munising, MI and subsequently ordered more for gifts directly from LaTulip.
NOTE: If you’d like you can switch up the herbs, add more or less garlic. I’m thinking that this recipe (minus the vegetable garden) would be very good with pizza toppings and cheese. I’m not a fan of thick pizza crust but I think I might like it on the focaccia.