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Focaccia (Italian Garlic-Cheese Bread)

focaccia

The first time I ever tasted "Roman bread" was at Monti's la Casa Vieja in Tempe, Arizona. I vowed to find a good recipe and tweak it to my liking, and this is the result.

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Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 2/3 to 3 cups flour
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh or dried rosemary leaves

Instructions

  1. Dissolve yeast in water. Let stand until bubbly. Stir in sugar, salt and olive oil. Add 2 cups flour and eat until elastic. Stir in 2/3 cup more flour. Knead for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Put into a greased bowl. Turn over to coat well. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  3. Heat 1/4 cup oil. Add garlic and cook until soft and yellow. Set aside.
  4. Punch dough down and knead briefly. Roll with a rolling pin and stretch to fit a greased 15 x 10-inch cookie sheet (with sides). Pierce dough with the end of a wooden spoon at 1-inch intervals. Drizzle garlic and oil all over. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and rosemary. Let rise, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 to 18 minutes.

Alternate Toppings

Rosemary: Just before baking, dimple the top of the dough and drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, sprinkle on 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt and a sprinkling of fresh or dried rosemary leaves.

Provencale: After the dough is stretched into the pan, stir together 1 can plum tomatoes (drained and chopped) and 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil. Spread the mixture over the dough. Cover with a towel and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes.

Dimple the dough again and top with 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves, 1 can sliced black olives, 4 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt.

From the kitchen of Linda Jolly.