2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup (235 ml) warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
1/4 teaspoon honey
2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a cold medium skillet, combine olive oil, minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, and the black pepper. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until aromatic, but before the garlic browns. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Stir a few times then let sit for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour and a 1/4 cup of the infused garlic-olive oil mixture. Stir 3 to 4 times until the flour has moistened. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. Once the dough comes together, transfer to a floured board and knead the dough 10 to 15 times until smooth. Transfer to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. (It’s best to let the dough rise in a warmer area of your kitchen).
After 1 hour, heat oven to 450 degrees F. Use two tablespoons of the remaining garlic-olive oil mixture to oil a 9-inch by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet. (See above if you do not have this pan size).
Transfer the dough to the baking sheet then press it down into the pan. Use your fingers to dimple the dough then drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the garlic-olive oil mixture. Let the dough rise for 20 minutes until it puffs slightly. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool baked focaccia bread on a wire rack.
#FACTS The primary difference between conventional pizza (round, Neapolitan Pizza) and focaccia is that pizza dough uses very little leavening (bakers yeast), resulting in a very thin, flat and flexible crust, while focaccia dough uses more leavening, causing the dough to rise significantly higher. The added leavening firms the crust and gives focaccia the capacity to absorb large amounts of olive oil. Unleavened pizza dough is already too dense to absorb much olive oil. A conventional loaf of bread is too tall to absorb olive oil all the way through to its center. Being shorter in height than a conventional loaf and less dense than a pizza dough, focaccia can indeed absorb olive oil all the way to its center or at least nearly so. As such, focaccia might well be thought of as “olive oil bread”.