Things are looking up! 14 days until spring. The sun is setting after 6 pm (ok, 5:57 but close enough). And the week ahead promises to be warm here in the eastern US – woohoo! I feel like a kid waiting very impatiently for Christmas. The promise of spring has my pandemic-weary soul flying high in anticipation. Soon, my east coast amici, soon!
Until spring springs forth, I am keeping myself busy in the kitchen. On this still very chilly weekend Saturday, I decided to make a roasted garlic focaccia using up the extra head of garlic I roasted with dinner this past week and to test out some of the new items in our little online shop from Bona Furtuna, our newest artisan family from Sicily (tasty olive oil, Sicilian sea salt and wild organic spices).
I frequently have roasted garlic in my fridge. I simply throw an extra head of foil-wrapped garlic, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, in the oven while making another meal. Roasting garlic takes its taste to whole new level. The sugars caramelize while roasting, transforming it into a sweet, creamy head of goodness. You can then use it smeared over a toasted slice of bread. Stir it into mashed potatoes. Add it to salad dressings or dips. Or make this yummy focaccia!
Although a little time consuming, focaccia is super easy to make. Most of the overall time is time you can be off doing other things as you wait for the yeast to work its magic. Whip up a batch and pop it in the fridge overnight to rise or leave it at room temperature to allow it to rise faster. And there is nothing like the smell of fresh bread baking to put a smile on your face and pep in your step. This topped this focaccia with sweet roasted garlic – feel free to simply omit the garlic and top with the olive oil and sea salt – makes it even easier and is equally as tasty.
I made this with our new extra-virgin olive oil from Bona Furtuna and sprinkled the top with their beautiful flaky Sicilian sea salt with wild oregano flowers for an extra tasty topping. Click on the link if you would like to check out their great products – but fret not, this comes out equally as yummy subbing with what you have at home.
Sweet roasted garlic tops this simple rustic focaccia. Great for a tasty snack or served alongside dinner.
For the roasted garlic:
- 1 whole head garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the focaccia:
- 5 cups (600 grams) all-purpose flour
- ¼ ounce envelope (about 2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for the bowl and pan
- 2 cups lukewarm water plus additional if needed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt (optional: with oregano)
Roast the garlic (can be made a day or two in advance):
Preheat over 400 degrees F. Remove any loose papery exterior skin from the head of garlic. Cut off the top of the head to expose the cloves, about ½ inch typically. Place the head of garlic in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap up the garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap up the foil tightly and place in a small ovenproof bowl (in case the foil leaks). Bake in the oven until the garlic is soft, about 50 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Leave at room temperature if using immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the dough:
In a large bowl (large enough to accommodate the dough at least doubling in bulk), stir together the flour, yeast and salt until combined. Add in olive oil and 2 cups of the lukewarm water. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix until the dough starts to come together. If too dry, continue to add lukewarm water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough forms a ball. (I needed ½ cup extra.)
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using your hands, knead the dough until it is smooth, about 5 minutes. Clean the large bowl and drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom. Add the dough to the bowl and turn to coat in oil (your hands work the best here). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise. Let rise until doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours. (Don’t panic if it takes longer – timing will depend on your room temperature.)
Spread 3 tablespoons olive oil evenly onto an 18 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the pan using your hands. Give the dough a turn to coat it in oil. Using the flat palm of your hand and your fingers, gently stretch the dough to the edges of the sheet pan. The dough will try to shrink back a bit as you are doing this so continue to stretch until it reaches the edges. Cover tightly again with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for another 45 minutes to an hour to allow it to rise until light.
Bake the focaccia:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Using your fingertips, dimple the entire top of the focaccia. Pop the roasted garlic cloves from the roasted head and break up into smaller pieces using either your fingers or a knife. Scatter the roasted garlic over the surface of the dough, gently pressing (or smearing if soft) the cloves into the dough. Drizzle the entire surface with a few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
Bake until golden brown, 20-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Release focaccia from the pan using a metal spatula. Transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool slightly, slice and serve immediately. Or allow to cool to room temperature, slice and serve. Enjoy!