Cookbook author and content creator, Zacchary Bird shows how to make one of the most popular foodie fads -focaccia – at home.
MAKES: 1 FAMILY-SIZED FOCACCIA
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275 g (9½ oz) 00 flour
275 g (9½ oz) bread flour or plain (all-purpose) flour
4 g (1 slightly heaped teaspoon) instant dried yeast
2 teaspoons fine salt
500 ml (17 fl oz) warm water
150 g (5½ oz) mashed potato (optional)
120 ml (4 fl oz) kalamata olive brine
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus extra for sprinkling
CONFIT GARLIC OIL
2 garlic bulbs, peeled
120 ml (4 fl oz) olive oil
1 small onion, sliced into thin rounds
This has been my most popular recipe in recent years, probably due to it sitting at the intersection of no-knead and garlic-doused breads. What sets this recipe apart is the attention to flavour. Fresh confit garlic is studded into the dough, then the infused oil is whisked with kalamata olive brine and poured over the top to add flavour, salt and moistness as the bread bakes.
To make the confit garlic oil, preheat the oven to 130°C (265°F). Place the garlic cloves in a small baking dish, cover with the oil and bake for 1½–2 hours, checking after the 1-hour mark to make sure the garlic is still submerged in the oil, until the garlic is soft. Pour the oil and garlic into a clean jar and keep in the fridge until needed; it will keep for up to 2 weeks (see Note).
Combine the flours, yeast and fine salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water and potato, if using, and stir until incorporated; you should have a sticky, slightly runny dough that can still be manoeuvred by hand. Pour 2 tablespoons of the confit garlic oil over the dough, then flip the dough over a few times to coat fully in the oil. Cover the bowl securely with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 6 hours, and up to 72 hours – the longer, the better!
On the day you want to bake the focaccia, grease a 28 cm × 40 cm (11 in × 16 in) baking tray with another 2 tablespoons of the confit garlic oil. Deflate the dough by grabbing a piece and folding it into the middle of the dough ball, then rotate and repeat this action until the dough is more manageable. Place the dough in the middle of the baking tray and use your fingertips to prod and push the dough into the edges of the tray.
Cover with plastic wrap to avoid a skin forming, then move to a warm spot and leave to rise for at least 2 hours. When risen, the dough should have bubbles throughout, and any coldness from the fridge should have been warmed away.
To get it ready for baking, preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F). Use your fingertips to prod all over the top of the risen focaccia, through to the base of the baking tray, to create the signature dimples. Scatter the confit garlic and your chosen toppings all over the focaccia, then go in with a second dimpling to push them in. Doing this makes even more room for a second scattering of toppings if you’re keen for an overloaded version. Whisk together most of the remaining garlic oil and the olive brine (I use a 1:2 ratio of oil to brine) then pour this over the top of the focaccia. Finish with a scattering of coarse salt.
Bake the focaccia for about 30 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through cooking. Brush any remaining garlic confit oil over the top and sprinkle with more coarse salt to make every bite perfect from the get-go.
Cool the focaccia on the tray for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack or chopping board, ready for slicing and serving. Alternatively, you can store it in the fridge for 3–4 days to slice and reheat as desired.
IMPORTANT! Garlic confit, the oil, and any focaccia using either of them MUST be stored in the fridge, or they can become a health hazard. (Specifically, botulism. No fun.)