Now we're talkin my language! I love foccacia bread. Garlic and rosemary is my favorite. I've made variations before but I'm always looking for another. I don't know why, because no matter what I put on it, not matter how much I love those ingredients, it still doesn't get better than garlic/rosemary in my book. But I continue to experiment. Hey that's what cooking is all about though right? I knew I wanted to try the bread with kalamata olives. Seriously, how good does that sound?? Kalamata olive foccacia bread. Well damn, it sounds awesome to me!
But what else should go with it? This was my dilemma. I wanted to make sure the olives were highlighted. No other strong flavors. So no rosemary this time. I googled and found that some recipes for olive foccacia had sundried tomatoes as well. No. That wasn't going to work for me. I love them, but they are also a strong flavor. Sundried tomato foccacia would be for another day.
I decided on garlic and then after consulting with my foodie guru Madonna to see what she would pair with garlic and olives. I was thinking an herb, but her suggestion was lemon. Interesting! I decided to give it a go.
First things first. Roast the garlic. I always roast my garlic for foccacia now because the first time I made it, it called for chopped garlic on top and it all burned. Burned garlic is not yummy. So cut the top of a head of garlic. Place it on several layers of aluminum foil and then drizzle with olive oil.
Wrap the garlic up and place in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. When it's done, remove and let cool.
Now we need to get started on the bread. This bread recipe takes time, so make sure you have a lot of it before you start. Attach the dough hook to your Kitchen Aid mixer. If you don't have one, poor you! Start by making a sponge, which is just another way of saying a dough starter. It consists of yeast, warm water and flour, mixed together with the dough hook on your mixer. The sponge needs to rise for one hour (place in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and then a towel). When it's risen it pretty much looks like a sponge, thus the name.
Before the sponge is done rising, make the actual dough. Again, yeast, warm water, flour, but to the dough you also add some olive oil and salt.
Get the dough well mixed and then add the sponge to the mixer and mix together. When the dough cleans the mixing bowl all by itself, it's perfect. You may have to add more flour to get to this point. I needed to add flour several times yesterday because it was so humid out.
By the way, aren't my mixer action shots cool?
The dough and sponge come together as one and then need to rise as one. You can knead a little before you set it to rise, but with the Kitchen Aid doing all the work for you, you really don't need to knead. Again, place the dough in a oiled boil, wrap with plastic wrap and then cover with a towel. Set it aside to rise for about an hour, or until it's doubled in size.
Once it's risen, spread the dough out on sheet pan, cover with plastic and a towel again and let rise a third time. I said it takes time, but it's worth the efforts so quit complaining! The third rise should only take about 30 - 40 minutes. In the meantime, get your toppings ready. Your garlic should be cool enough to handle by now so squeeze all those lovely little cloves out and into a bowl.
Add about 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Then add the zest of one lemon.
With a fork, mash the garlic with the oil and the zest so it resembles a paste. Normally I would add salt here, but since I'm using olives I decided not to. Which leads me to the star of our show, the olives! I bought pitted kalamata's, but you can buy them unpitted and pit them yourself. Then give them a rough chop.
When the dough is done rising, with two clean hands, make dimples in the dough. Don't be shy! Dimple that dough all over!!!
Then take the topping and dump it on the dough, then spread it out evenly with a knife, a spreader, or a brush. I use a brush because I want to make sure that the dough gets a nice shine of olive oil all over it.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Check it and make sure it's browning lightly on the bottom and very lightly on the top. You do not want to overcook it or burn any of the yummy toppings.
It's delish! I still think it could use a fresh herb though. Maybe thyme? I'm not sure. I'll continue to experiment though.
(Full bread recipe can be found here)