As the weather changes and foliage arrives on a breath of cool air, the oven slowly gets cranking in the kitchen. Baking becomes a rediscovered passion and craving for pie or garlic bread quickly become a delicious reality. This recent bread was the result of one such garlic craving paired with the fortuitous discovery of leftover grated Parmigiano-Reggiano in the fridge. We baked our bread in an 12-inch iron skillet although you can easily shape it on on a sheet pan and bake it that way too.
Garlic and Cheese Foccacia
3 cups AP flour
1.75 teaspoons instant yeast
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (or any dry, full flavored cheese of your choosing)
2 large cloves of garlic minced or zested on a microplane
3 tablespoons good quality, flavorful olive oil
1.5 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for the greasing the baking pan
semolina or cornmeal to coat the baking pan
Kosher salt or fleur de sel
Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and cheese in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn the machine on low for 20 seconds to blend. Combine the garlic, water and olive oil and pour them into the flour. Turn the machine on low and stir until the mixture comes together in a rough dough, cleaning the sides of the bowl. Turn off the machine and change the paddle for a dough hook and turn the machine back on and slowly increase the speed to medium. Knead the dough for five minutes unti it becomes smooth and elastic, it should be moist and slightly tacky but not sticky. Rub a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place the dough in the bowl, turning it once to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl and let it rise until doubled, approximately a hour to an hour and a half depending on the temperature in your kitchen. Either punch it down and let it rise again or shape the dough after the first rising.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub a 12-inch iron skillet with olive oil and sprinkle semolina or cornmeal over the bottom of the pan. Press the dough into the skillet, gently stretching it to evenly cover the bottom. Drizzle with 2 teaspons oil and using your fingertips, gently spread it over the top of the dough. This will keep the dough from drying out as it rises. After 30 minutes, gently press indentations in the top of your dough with your fingertips, any excess oil will fall into the valleys. Sprinkle the top of the bread with kosher salt or fleur de sel and fresh ground pepper to taste and bake for 30-35 minutes until the bread is golden brown. if the foccacia is not browning in the skillet, pull out the pan after 25 minutes and gently flip the foccacia over so the bottom side is on top. The top will brown in the last few minutes on the bottom of the pan. Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes before cutting into the bread.
*Since this bread is not as thick and puffy as other types of foccacia, the leftovers make excellent sandwiches, paninis, and impromptu stuffings...