There’s nothing like fresh-baked bread. It’s irresistible. A chewy, crusty hunk of homemade bread fresh from the oven is the perfect accompaniment to any soup or stew, which most of us are eating a lot of these days. Sadly, a lot of people are afraid to try making their own bread. But it’s so easy, and it’s made even easier with a bread machine. I learned to make bread by hand before I ever got a bread machine as a gift, and it’s definitely a good skill to have, but bread machines can be such a time-saver. One of the things I don’t like, however, is the weird cube-loaf that comes out at the end of baking in the machine. I love this focaccia for many reasons (garlic, rosemary, and asiago cheese are three of them), but mostly because the dough comes together and kneads in the machine, and then you can get your hands a little dirty forming the loaf and seasoning it before baking it in the oven.
This bread is full of amazing flavor. There’s fresh garlic in the dough itself, and I brushed the top with olive oil and garlic before liberally sprinkling it with dried rosemary and grated asiago cheese. Just a short trip to the oven later, and out comes a beautifully golden-brown, fragrant loaf with a thin but crisp crust and a ridiculously tender, fluffy crumb. It won’t be as full of air pockets as artisan focaccia, but it still has a beautiful texture and chew. All you need is a piping hot bowl of soup (like this Italian Chili, perhaps?)—or just some olive oil and balsamic for dipping—and you’ll be tempted to finish off a whole loaf in one sitting. Luckily, this recipe makes two loaves! Plus, it only takes less than two hours from start to finish, with just a few minutes of active prep time. How could you resist?
Garlic Rosemary Focaccia
Adapted from The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook
Makes 2 loaves, about 12 slices per loaf
- 1⅛ cups water
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3¼ cups bread flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2½ teaspoons bread machine yeast
- Cornmeal or coarse semolina, for sprinkling
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tablespoons dried rosemary
- ¼ cup freshly grated asiago or parmesan cheese
- Place the dough ingredients (water through yeast) in the pan according to the order in the manufacturer’s instructions. Program for the dough cycle; press start.
- Brush a 17×11″ baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle heavily with cornmeal or semolina. When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, remove the bread pan and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two portions. Form one portion into a ball and use the heel of your hand to press and flatten it into a disc about ½” thick. Repeat with the other portion of dough. The two portions will fit on the baking sheet with a few inches in between. Brush the tops with olive oil. Cover gently with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until puffy, about 25 minutes.
- Twenty minutes before baking, place a baking stone on the lowest rack of a cold oven and preheat it to 450ºF. (Note: You can do this without the baking stone, but the crust may be slightly affected.)
- Combine the remaining olive oil with the minced garlic. Brush the dough again with the olive oil and garlic mixture. If there is any left over, pour it over the top of the dough. Sprinkle on rosemary and cheese. Reduce the oven temperature to 400ºF. Place the pan on the hot stone and bake for 15 minutes, or until the focaccias are nicely browned. Slide onto a rack to cool or serve warm from the oven, sliced or cut in wedges.
To freeze: Let bread cool completely before freezing. Wrap in several layers of plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. To thaw, preheat oven to 250ºF. Wrap loaf in foil and place in the oven for about 30 minutes or until completely thawed.