“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…M.F.K. Fisher,
Bread is the most basic, well-loved, and pleasurable food in all of the universe. Even so, making it at home is seems daunting to a lot of people.
It is so not!
Baking bread is as simple as mixing flour, water, and yeast and waiting for them to create magic. Besides, nothing beats the smell and taste of a home-baked loaf.
If you’re still unsure, I recommend dipping your toes in the pool with this herb and garlic focaccia. It is a basic, vegan bread recipe that’s been my go-to for many years now.
I get a gorgeously flavorful loaf every time I bake it. It’s soft yet chewy and deeply satisfying!
What is focaccia?
Focaccia a highly addictive and popular Italian flatbread. Legend says Romans used to bake their bread in coals, giving rise to panis focacius. That’s Latin for hearth bread.
The flatbread is known for its characteristic dimples. It’s deliciously chewy and uses a godly amount of olive oil. And it’s quite versatile. Top it with herbs and it’s savory. Sprinkle it with honey or raisins and you make the sweet version.
How to Make Herb & Garlic Focaccia?
Focaccia is absolutely a breeze to make at home, not fussy at all. If you’re worried about working with yeast, don’t. All you have to do is knead. That’s all.
Start by mixing water, sugar, and yeast. Make sure the water is warm to touch. Not hot, not cold. It will activate the yeast. The tiny amount of sugar makes the yeast nicely bubbly. Together, they help the dough rise better.
While you wait for the yeast to foam, combine the flour, salt, and fresh rosemary (I used some from my herb garden). To this add olive oil and the activated yeast.
Because I’ve been using this focaccia recipe for so many years, I feel comfortable going back and forth on all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Sometimes I even combine the two. You can pick the one you prefer.
I adore the nutty zing that comes with whole wheat. If you’re worried about the focaccia being dry and coarse, remedy it by keeping the dough well hydrated.
Kneading the focaccia dough
The herb and garlic focaccia requires zero technique. It’s that basic. What you do need to do is knead.
Using small amounts of water, knead the dough for a good 8 to 10 minutes. Kneading helps the yeast do its magic with gluten. It develops the gluten strands and strengthens the network, giving the bread a great chew.
In case your hands get tired, cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and rest. Go back in a few minutes and knead some more.
Once you have a smooth dough, place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover it, and let it rest till it doubles in volume.
Baking the herb & garlic focaccia
Take out the proven dough on a floured surface, deflate it with gentle hands and then roll it. You can roll the dough really thin, but I kept it at 3/4th of an inch.
You can use a rolling pin or your hands.
Transfer it to your parchment-lined baking tray. You can also use a baking tin, say 8″ or 9″ in diameter.
Let this dough rest, covered, for about 20 minutes. Or until it gets a bit puffy.
Use your fingers to make the iconic indentation on the surface. Make sure the dimples are deep but don’t make holes through the dough. These indentations prevent big bubbles from coming up to the surface while the dough bakes.
Brush the surface liberally with olive oil. Scatter garlic and rosemary along with some sea salt.
Then bake for 20 -30 minutes till you have an utterly crispy crust and a fluffy interior.
Top the hot bread with a bit more olive oil, if you wish. I almost never miss this step!
Do not skimp on olive oil. It is the essential ingredient to making a soft, and tender focaccia with a little bit of chewiness.
Also, use the best quality olive oil you can get your hands on!
Variations of focaccia recipe
Focaccia can be topped with endless ingredients:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh herbs of your choice
You can even use dried herbs or you could even leave it plain.
The variations in focaccia are not limited to toppings, you can even alter the shape. Use any baking pan you want or simply go freeform.
Serving the herb & garlic focaccia
Focaccia is cozy, comfort food for me. I add some cheese to it, dip it in olive oil, and call it a meal. You can also toast the focaccia and have it for breakfast.
It’s great for entertaining too. Simply cut it into little, fluffy squares and serve with various dips or just some good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s even a fabulous dough for making pizzas. But that’s another post!
The herb & garlic focaccia is a fool-proof recipe. Trust me, do what you will with it and it’ll still turn out satisfyingly scrumptious.
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Herb & Garlic Focaccia
- 325 gms ( 2.5 cups) Wholewheat flour
- 1.5 tsp Salt
- 1.5 tsp Fresh rosemary, chopped finely You can use any fresh or dried herbs
- 2 tsp Dry active Yeast
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 250 ml ( 1 cup) Warm Water plus extra if needed
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil plus extra for drizzling on top
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
- Rosemary, Sea salt for topping
- Mix warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Keep it in a draft free place for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is frothy.
- Combine the flour, salt, and chopped rosemary in a large bowl.
- Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture and olive oil. Form a dough and turn out on a well floured surface.
- Knead the dough using the heels of your hands pushing the dough away from you and fold the top half of the dough back towards you, and press down. Then press out again, stretching and folding back. If the mixture feels too dry, add water, 1 Tbsp at a time. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes. You should get a slightly sticky, soft, smooth dough.
- Transfer this dough to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in a draft-free place for about 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Pre heat the oven to 200 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Take out the proven dough on a floured surface. Gently deflate the dough and flatten the dough a bit.
- Using a rolling pin or your hands, stretch and flatten the dough to make an 8" or 9" circle. Let it proof again in a draft free place for about 20 -30 minutes, or until puffy.
- Once its risen, make indents on the bread surface using your fingers. Drizzle over some olive oil; scatter garlic, sea salt, and rosemary.
- Place it in the preheated oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown. Drizzle some more olive oil on top, if you wish.
- Transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool for 15 -20 minutes before tearing in!! Enjoy!