All Rise

Recipe and photos by Brandon Matzek

With a rosemary-flecked, burnished-gold finish, this Roasted Garlic Focaccia's dimpled surface glistens with rich olive oil and tiny crystals of crunchy sea salt. Each bite is heaven for garlic-lovers.

Focaccia, a classic Italian bread, is characterized by its light, chewy texture, golden crust and rich flavor that sings with notes of yeast and olive oil. The surface is often dotted to allow olive oil to absorb into the center of the bread.

In this recipe, olive oil is infused with a whole head of garlic. The resulting roasted garlic oil is then used to flavor the dough, and the roasted garlic cloves are scattered on top before baking. Fresh, fragrant rosemary complements the roasted garlic while flakey sea salt provides tasty pops of flavor and texture.

Only slightly more ambitious than pizza dough, focaccia is a simple introduction to the world of bread-making. With the right equipment and some basic ingredients, you'll be preparing delicious homemade bread in no time. This recipe can take 3.5 to 4 hours to complete (most of that time is devoted to inactive tasks like resting, rising and infusing), so plan accordingly.

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Roasted Garlic Focaccia

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large head of garlic, cut in half widthwise
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsps.) active dry yeast (not rapid rising)
1 3/4 cups warm water
4 cups white flour
2 tsp. fine-grain sea salt
Just under
2 tbsp. coarsely chopped, fresh rosemary (from 3 - 4 sprigs)
Flakey sea salt

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Process

Infuse. Preheat oven to 300°F and place a rack in middle of oven. Place olive oil in small baking dish or oven-safe bowl. Add garlic halves (cut-side down), cover tightly with foil, and then transfer to oven. Cook until garlic is tender and golden (45 minutes to 1 hour). Pour roasted garlic oil through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Carefully remove roasted garlic cloves from skin and reserve. Discard other solids. Let roasted garlic oil cool completely before using.

Proof and Mix. Rinse bowl of a stand mixer with warm water, dry, and then add yeast. Cover with 1 3/4 cups warm water, gently stirring to dissolve yeast. Let sit for 3 - 5 minutes, until mixture starts to foam. Using dough hook attachment, start mixer on low, and then add flour, salt and 2 tablespoons roasted garlic oil. When dough starts to come together, increase mixer speed to medium. Stop mixer periodically to scrape dough off hook. Mix until dough is smooth and a little sticky (8 - 10 minutes).

Rest and Rise. Add 2 teaspoons of roasted garlic oil to a large bowl, and then add ball of dough. Turn dough in the bowl to completely coat it in oil. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel, and then place in a warm spot so it can double in size (about 1 hour 45 minutes). Add 1 teaspoon of roasted garlic oil to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading it around bottom and sides. Uncover and punch down dough, and then place on baking sheet. Carefully stretch dough out to sides of pan. Cover with a tea towel, and then let rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes. While dough is resting, preheat the oven to 450°F.

Dimple, Dot and Bake. Uncover dough, and dimple with roasted garlic oil-greased fingertips. Brush surface with more roasted garlic oil, and then dot with reserved roasted garlic cloves. Sprinkle surface with fresh rosemary and a few pinches of flakey sea salt. Place in oven, and then immediately reduce heat to 375°F. Bake until golden brown (20 - 25 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before eating.

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