RECIPE: Rosemary Garlic Focaccia

Rosemary is like the chandon beni of the Mediterranean. The hot and dry climate allows it to grow in generous abundance. Its aromas are deep, warm, slightly minty and terribly appetising. Once cared for properly, rosemary can grow extremely well in our tropical climate. I do have a few (struggling) rosemary plants in my own herb garden, but I tend to buy this delicious herb in the farmers’ market whenever I see it. It is great with virtually all roasted protein and vegetable dishes, but it’s especially great in this simple, comforting focaccia recipe.  Hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
Yields: 16 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour resting 
Cook Time: 30 minutes 
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, plus 1 sprig for garnish 
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup warm water (105°F) 
1 packet, or 11 grams of instant yeast 
¼ teaspoon honey
2 teaspoon of brown sugar 
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus 2 pinches for garnish 
1 Place olive oil, garlic and four sprigs of rosemary in a medium saucepan. Set the pan over low heat and cook, stirring intermittently, 5 to 10 minutes, or until aromatic. but before the garlic browns. Set aside and cool completely.
2 In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, instant yeast and one teaspoon of sea salt.
3 In a separate bowl, combine water, ½ cup of the cooled olive oil and honey.
4 Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together using a rubber spatula.
5 Once a sticky dough begins to form, gently knead with floured hands, for about 6 minutes until a smooth ball forms. Feel free to use extra flour if the dough feels too sticky. 
6 Place dough into a bowl, lightly greased with olive oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size. 
7 After resting, punch down into the dough to knock out the excess air.
8 Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch rimmed baking pan with wax paper. Brush wax paper and side of the pan with the some of the remaining olive oil. 
9 Stretch dough into the pan from corner to corner. Using your fingertips, gently poke wells into the dough. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
10 Brush the dough with the remaining olive oil and garnish with rosemary leaves.
11 Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown. 
12 Once out of the oven, immediately sprinkle sea salt.
13 Cut into squares and serve warm. 

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