Photo by Lisa Kivirist
What blends warm, crusty comfort food with an immunity boost? Garlic Focaccia Bread. My husband John Ivanko and I have become big focaccia fans, thanks to our son, Liam, embracing his inner chef. His perfected and versatile focaccia recipe is shared below.
Garlic, specifically the German red hardneck varietal, is a cash crop for my family business at Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed & Breakfast. When we go to split our seed garlic in late October, we always have some of the smaller cloves that don’t make the “to plant” cut. Some cloves are frozen so we have plenty to cook with from February through July of the following year. Some garlic cloves are used up when we start making tomato sauce on top of our woodstove, using our remaining onions and ripe tomatoes we froze back in August or September.
Finally, some garlic cloves are used in this Garlic Focaccia Bread, generously mixing in halved-cloves scattered on the the bread; as they cook, the cloves soften perfectly. Besides baking this focaccia in a traditional convection oven in our farmhouse kitchen, we’ve also had great success making this bread in our wood-fired oven outside, usually after we finish off our artisanal pizzas, so we can enjoy the focaccia the following day. We’re always trying to optimize baking in the outdoor wood-fired oven, making and roasting as many items or dishes as we can during each firing.
Rooting in Italy, focaccia is a flat oven-baked bread that is similar in texture, flavor and style to pizza dough but more bready with only light toppings like shavings of cheese or fresh herbs when in season. There's no layer of tomato-based sauce or gobs of cheese for this bread. Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals. We find focaccia works well for grilled sandwiches, too. Finely sliced into strips, the focaccia can also make for a fancy appetizer when you add your thickened, homemade tomato sauce for dunking. Goat cheese or homemade pesto also make great spreads to accompany the bread.
If you’re baking under your state’s cottage food law and selling food products from your home kitchen, this could be a great item to sell at a farmers’ market or deliver locally. As farmstead chef Liam likes to say: “It’s an easy and very versatile recipe. Every time I make it, I try a different cheesy topping or use fresh herbs when available.”
Inn Serendipity Garlic Focaccia Bread Recipe
Servings: 12 (depending on size)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour or 00 type flour
- 1-1/4 cup water, lukewarm (90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 3 to 4 large cloves of garlic
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded, melting cheese
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- Optional: fresh basil, thyme, oregano, or other herbs
- Briefly bloom yeast in warm water to ensure yeast is alive and active.
- Mix all dough ingredients in a bowl or stand mixer until combined into a smooth dough (5-6 minutes).
- Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover the top with plastic wrap or a wet towel, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size (typically one to two hours).
- Once the dough has risen, prepare a 9" x 13" baking pan by rubbing it with olive oil and then lightly seasoning the bottom with salt and pepper.
- Gently transfer your dough into the oiled pan and spread it to the covers of the pan. Try to avoid flattening the dough out as much as possible.
- Place a damp towel over the pan and let it proof for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Generously drizzle the top of the focaccia with a few teaspoons of olive oil and then using your fingers, gently dimple the surface of the dough to incorporate olive oil and create a textured surface.
- Peel and cut garlic cloves in half the long way. Place garlic halves into the dimples on the dough's surface. If you'd like to include any fresh herbs, now would be the time to dice them and sprinkle them across the dough's surface.
- Place a light layer of melting cheese on top of the garlic and focaccia. Covering the garlic will help prevent it from burning in the hot oven.
- Add a final drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and some more freshly cracked black pepper on top. Then place the focaccia in your preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned on top and cooked through.
- Once removed from the oven, let the focaccia briefly cool before cutting to allow the bottom to more easily separate from the pan.
- Serve or use immediately, or refrigerate after cooling for use later.
Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural Renaissance, Homemade for Sale, the award-winning ECOpreneuring and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son, Liam, and millions of ladybugs. Read all of Lisa’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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