Focaccia is one versatile little bit of Italian rustic flatbread. It can be used as a side for soups and stews. Or it can be topped with a variety of items such as olives, onions, tomatoes, or meats. You can also cut the squares in half and use both sides to make sandwiches. Yum! Or, if you are like me, you can polish off large chunks by simply tearing off pieces and dipping them in seasoned olive oil. I did just admit that in writing, didn’t I? Shoot, that was supposed to be a dark little guilty secret.
I’ve been thinking about soups and stews lately, in total rebellion against this Phoenix heat that simply refuses to acknowledge that it is the end of October and 98° F is nowhere near an acceptable temperature with which to welcome cold-weather food. After getting myself all out of sorts railing against the weather, I decided I needed to comfort and pamper myself. Because I live low-carb, the most comforting (and decadent) thing I can usually think of involves fresh bread. So, I made some rosemary garlic focaccia!
Focaccia is a dense, somewhat heavy flatbread. Kinda crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, it is made from the same basic dough recipe as pizza. And like pizza crust, it is delicious with plenty of olive oil, which is how it is traditionally prepared.
Let’s make some rosemary garlic focaccia
I include the pizza dough recipe below. This recipe is just a slight variation from my regular pizza dough. The main difference is that I use a little bit more flour so that I get a thicker bread for the focaccia. If using more flour, then you need to use a little bit more of everything else too.
So, either start with a thawed frozen pizza dough, or use your trusty bread machine in dough setting or your upright mixer to prepare your own dough from scratch. If making it from scratch, you will let the dough proof twice. Once after mixing and again after shaping the focaccia in the pan.
If using frozen dough, you can just stretch it out into the pan according to the instructions below, once the dough has defrosted and come to room temperature.
Prepare a 9 x 13-inch sheet or cake fan by brushing a teaspoon of olive oil on the bottom. Then gently press the dough with your fingers, stretching it to cover the entire bottom of the pan, keeping the same thickness all over.
Then lightly brush the top of the dough with another teaspoon of olive oil, cover, and allow it to rise for approximately 30 minutes, or until double its size. At the same time, preheat the oven to 400° F.
While the dough is rising in the pan and the oven is preheating, prepare the rosemary garlic mixture. Set it aside so that the flavors can seep into the olive oil.
When the focaccia dough is ready, drizzle the rosemary and garlic oil over the top. Then use a pastry brush to ensure that the top is fully coated, and the herbs are well distributed.
After adding the seasoned oil, make several indentations with your fingertips all over the dough. Now, I’ve seen recipes where they use just the index finger to make evenly-spaced, well-regimented lines of indentations. Me? The more rustic the better. All five finger tips on both hands, all at the same time. Go to town and get your hands dirty.
Why make the indentations AFTER adding the seasoned oil? I do it that way because it is easier to spread the oil and herbs evenly when the surface is smooth. It also keeps all the oil from pooling in the holes. You want some pooling, but not heavy pooling.
Finally, sprinkle a small pinch or two of the coarse Kosher salt over the top.
Then into the oven it goes, for about 30 minutes.
Pretty, pretty, pretty. And OH, SO AROMATIC! When this baby came out of the oven, I could see the comfort and pampering coming my way!
Rosemary and garlic is a hard flavor combination to beat. Everything browned with a luscious olive oil and sprinkled with the crunchy enhancement of coarse Kosher salt. Somewhat crunchy on the outside, definitely chewy on the inside. A total package of yumminess.
And yes, I took an entire wedge and dipped it in some more seasoned olive oil. Because Steve was not here to stop me, and I am very, very bad. I didn’t even have room for the soup, so I will have to have it tonight instead.
I need to get the rest of this to Sam. Too much temptation!
- FOR THE FOCACCIA DOUGH
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt, full
- 3 teaspoons Dry Active Yeast
- 1½ cups +/- water, just until dough is smooth
- FOR THE TOPPING
- 5 teaspoons quality olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
- 1 large garlic, finely diced
- 2 small pinches coarse kosher salt
- Brush 1 teaspoon of olive oil on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch sheet pan or cake pan.
- Using your fingers, gently spread the prepared pizza dough to fit the bottom of the pan, working to keep the dough thickness even throughout.
- Brush the dough with another teaspoon of olive oil, cover, and allow to rise for about 30 minutes, or until double in size.
- Mix together the remaining 3 teaspoons of olive oil, the diced garlic and the fresh chopped rosemary. Set aside until the dough is ready.
- Drizzle the rosemary garlic and oil mixture onto the risen dough. Use a pastry brush to gently spread the oil and seasonings so the dough is evenly and fully covered.
- Using both hands, push your fingertips into the dough to create indentations throughout.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the focaccia is golden brown, but not too crusted.
- Cut and serve warm or at room temperature.
You can substitute frozen pizza dough for this recipe. If making dough from scratch, allow 1½ hours more.