If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’ve been having a go at the latest ‘thing’ in breadmaking: Focaccia Art. And it is currently wild garlic season. So today I’ve made some Wild Garlic Focaccia which turned out beautifully.
I must start by saying that being ‘on trend’ is not me. In fact, were I to be such a thing, it would be a lifetime first. But when I saw Blondie and Rye‘s sourdough creations, I knew I’d have to have a go with focaccia bread.
The interesting discovery when I first made an artistic loaf is that the addition of the toppings isn’t just pretty. They add moisture and flavour to your loaf. Another benefit we’ve found is that, even when the bread is a couple of days old, you can perk it up in the microwave and the moisture really helps. We’ve also been known to cut up this bread and dip it in a fondue. Yum.
We’re lucky because we live near wild garlic sources which we can walk to from our place. However before we discovered them all, we planted our own wild garlic at our allotment. If you can’t find wild garlic near to where you live, you might want to consider Growing your own Wild Garlic for next year.
Making the Focaccia Dough
I make just about all my dough the cheat’s way, on the dough setting in my breadmaker.
That way I can be getting on with something else and when the machine is finished, the dough has had its first little rise, and is ready to be used. If you don’t have a breadmaker, you can simply mix the dough ingredients by hand and let it rise until it doubles in size. Then shape in the usual way and carry on with the recipe as stated here.
Once you have your focaccia dough made, which is 45 minutes in the breadmaker on the dough setting, making focaccia really doesn’t take any time at all.
Preparing the Dough for Toppings
Traditionally, focaccia is shaped into a rectangle and baked on a baking tray. So you don’t need to put it in a pan, but I do. Only because I’ve had my trusty 10 inch pizza pan for years, and this amount of dough fits in it perfectly.
When your breadmaker has finished, your dough will have had a little first rise in the machine. Prepare your tin by putting a few drops of olive oil in it, and smearing them round. Press the dough into the pizza tray until it reaches the edges. Then cover it all over with finger/thumb holes to give that lovely focaccia finish. Cover it in a clean tea towel (or, in my case, an old shower cap !) and leave it in a warm place for about 20 minutes.
You can top your focaccia with just about anything you like. This recipe came about because it’s wild garlic season. We tried roasting the leaves in the oven, to discover they’re delicious toasted. They’re not flowering yet, so the buds in wild garlic are not fully developed. When they are, they’ll be great on top too. But for now, I’m just using the leaves.
But when it’s not wild garlic season I tend to use the following:
- thinly sliced red onion
- small cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- slivers of green, red, orange and yellow peppers
- thinly sliced mushrooms
- leafy herbs, especially parsley and rocket
- wild garlic leaves and buds
- edible flowers
- thinly sliced beetroot, slightly dried first so it doesn’t ‘bleed’ into your dough too much
- leafy spring onions
- thinly sliced salami, french saucisson and similar cold meats
- nuts, seeds, chili flakes, salt and pepper…
The key is to ensure you put enough toppings on, ideally more than you think you need. That’s because the toppings will move around as the bread bakes, and will shrink when cooked.
Once your toppings are on
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees/Gas mark 5. Drizzle the bread with olive oil, then cover again and allow to rise for a little longer, about 20 minutes.
Pop in the oven, bake for about 20 minutes. Start checking after around 15 to ensure your toppings are getting too brown.
Wild Garlic Focaccia – Recipe
One half teaspoon rapid rise yeast
300g strong white bread flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Small handful of wild garlic, washed, tried and finely chopped
Toppings of your choice, plus sea salt and olive oil to drizzle.
Put the ingredients into your bread maker in whichever order it likes them (mine likes dry first, wet last). Set the bread maker off on a dough setting.
Lightly oil a 10-11 inch pizza tin.
When the machine is finished, press the dough into your pan, put thumb and finger prints dimples all over, cover and leave in a warm place to rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/Gas mark 5. Remove shower cap and create your artwork with toppings of your choice. Press them down gently with your finger to ensure they stay in safe. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, cover again and leave to rise for another 10/15 minutes.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden, checking occasionally after 15 minutes to ensure your toppings don’t burn. Turn out on a rack to cool.
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