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  • Laura Cognetti

Who doesn't love focaccia?

Updated: May 28, 2020

When I was in college I worked at a restaurant that specialized in Northern Italian cuisine. Everything on the menu was incredible - it was very seafood based. In between lunch and dinner the head chef would always serve the staff different types of homemade ravioli with these incredible sauces. We would all sit down to eat together at a round table and there was always a bread basket in the center of the table with warm focaccia. I remember how it was soft, but the outside had the perfect amount of texture. The herb and garlic blend was spot on, and the flavors just melted together in your mouth. Fast forward a few years, and this was the same restaurant that I had my first date with my husband, less than a year later we got engaged after dining there - and a year after that we had our rehearsal dinner there. The focaccia was the same for years. Sadly, that restaurant isn't there anymore and I haven't been able to find anything as good - until this year.

For Christmas my work partner gave me an amazing cookbook - nothing fancy by Allison Roman (highly recommend it!). The first page I opened to was pg. 70 - Overnight Focaccia, Tonight. I've made this a few times, and I finally got the right flour blend and topping to re-create the amazing focaccia that I remember from Aqua viva delle Fonte. A lot of the perfect bread is the rise, and I'm fortunate enough to have a proofing feature on my oven. I'm not sure what I would do without it- definitely check your oven manual since a lot of the newer ovens do have one it's just not something they advertise a lot. The Italian Herbs that I use in the oil are from Savory Spice Shop, there is one right in Westfield but you can also order online. Their stuff is incredible.

I would love your feedback if you try this recipe. Thanks for following along ~ LC

Garlic Herb Focaccia

1 (1/4 ounce) packet instant dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons

2 teaspoons honey

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus lots more for coating the bowl, pan and top of bread

2 cups warm water (around 110 degrees)

5 cups flour (I find it works best with 3 cups bread, 2 cups all purpose- but anything works really)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tbsp Italian Herbs

1 clove minced garlic

Sea Salt

1. Gently combine the yeast, honey, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and water in a large bowl. Add the flour and using a wooden spoon, mix to combine as best you can. Add the kosher salt and continue to mix until it starts to come together nicely - you will not be able to knead it at this stage so don't stress about it looking beautiful. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size, about an hour.

2. Gently release the dough from the bowl out onto a lightly floured surface and, using the palm of one hand lightly fold the dough onto itself until it comes together and starts looking smooth and elastic. Feel free to dust with flour occasionally, but the dough being a little tacky is ok.

3. Once the dough is looking nice and smooth, use a pastry brush to grease the inside of the bowl with olive oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size again, another 45 to 60 minutes. At this time also prepare your garlic herb oil- combine 3 Tbsp olive oil with 1 Tbsp Italian Herbs and 1 clove minced garlic; set aside.

4. Pour enough olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet to generously coat the entire sheet and use the same pastry brush to spread it all around. Turn the dough onto the baking sheet and gently stretch to fill the pan, it doesn't need to fully reach all sides, you don't want to play with it too much before it's final proof. Brush the top with more olive oil and lightly drape a piece of plastic wrap for its final rise, letting it rest in a warm spot for another 45 to 60 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 425.

6. Your dough is ready to bake when it looks light, puffy and buoyant. Using the tips of your fingers to very lightly dimple the surface, brush on the garlic herb oil and sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt. Bake, rotating if needed, for about 20-25 minutes until the bread is golden brown.

7. Remove from oven and let cool slightly if you can wait before slicing and serving.

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