Learn how to bake an authentic batch of Italian style garlic focaccia bread with this step by step guide. I'll teach you all the insider tips for baking focaccia bread from attending culinary school in Italy.
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If you're looking for authentic Italian focaccia bread flavored with lots of delicious garlic, you've come to the right place!
When I attended culinary school in Italy, we learned how to make many different varieties of the classic focaccia bread. Different regions in Italy have their own way of baking focaccia with various flavors and textures, like focaccia Barese and focaccia with tomatoes.
This version of focaccia is unique because it's flavored with homemade, infused garlic oil. The garlic flavor packs a punch in this recipe!
Try pairing this bread with your favorite Italian pasta dish or add a slice as a side dish for a salad.
Don't forget to check out a list of all my favorite Italian focaccia bread recipes.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
- A step by step guide for making authentic Italian focaccia bread.
- How to make an infused garlic oil to top the focaccia with.
- Tips for storing and reheating focaccia bread so it always tastes fresh and delicious.
If you enjoy learning how to bake, don't forget to grab my free ebook with 10 secrets to instantly become a better baker.
Ingredients You Need
The garlic focaccia bread requires a few ingredients for the infused oil and the focaccia dough.
For the Infused Olive Oil:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in Italian cooking. Be sure to use extra virgin olive oil (not regular olive oil) for the best possible flavor in your focaccia. If you're interested in learning more, check out my guide to Italian olive oil.
- Garlic: Be sure to use freshly peeled garlic. Do not substitute the fresh garlic for jarred garlic. The ending flavor result will not be the same.
For the Focaccia Bread:
- Bread Flour: For this recipe, it's crucial to opt for bread flour. With a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, bread flour ensures a delightful, chewy texture in your focaccia. I would not recommend using all purpose flour.
- Instant Dry Yeast: An essential for bread-making, yeast facilitates dough rising. Before baking, verify that your yeast hasn't expired. If you only have active dry yeast, use 2 ½ teaspoons.
- Water: Water plays a vital role in high-hydration focaccia dough. Ensure the water is at room temperature when mixing with yeast and flour. Water exceeding 140°F (60°C) will be too hot and kill the yeast.
- Granulated Sugar: Despite its small quantity, sugar in bread adds a crucial touch. It caramelizes during baking, giving the bread a beautiful golden brown color. Additionally, sugar helps retain moisture, contributing to a spongy texture.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: There's a lot of olive oil in authentic Italian focaccia bread, so be sure to buy a high-quality bottle.
- Fine Sea Salt: Salt plays multiple roles in this authentic focaccia recipe. It enhances overall flavor and tightens the gluten net, making the dough resistant and elastic. The immediate absorption of olive oil when salt is added showcases this interaction.
- Maldon Sea Salt Flakes: Sprinkle flaky salt on top of your focaccia. Avoid iodized table salt; opt for flaky sea salt or Morton kosher salt for this step.
Check out the recipe card below for the full details on ingredient quantities.
How To Make This Recipe
1. To start, let's first make the infused garlic oil. This is how the focaccia gets all of its flavor! Pulse garlic cloves in a food processor until roughly chopped.
2. Next, combine extra virgin olive oil and chopped garlic in a mason jar.
3. Cover a mason jar with a coffee filter secured with a rubber band. The olive oil needs to breathe, so don't be tempted to place a tight lid on top. Allow garlic and oil to sit at room temperature in a dark, cool room for 48 hours.
4. Strain and discard garlic. The garlic loses its flavor during the extraction process, so it will not taste good to use in another dish.
Finally, store the infused oil in a sterilized dark-colored bottle with a sealed lid (you can reuse the bottle the oil came in) away from light and heat. We will use this olive oil for the focaccia dough topping, but you'll also have some leftovers that you can use on roasted vegetables, in salad dressing, and drizzled on top of pasta and pizza.
5. Now it's time to move on to making the focaccia dough. To start, combine bread flour and instant dry yeast in a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook attachment. While the mixer is running at medium-low speed, gradually introduce the water in three small batches. Given the high-hydration nature of the dough, it's essential to let the water absorb into the flour before incorporating another small portion of water.
Once the water has been fully absorbed, add the sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.
6. Slowly pour extra virgin olive oil into the center of the dough in four batches. Mix on medium low speed and allow the flour to absorb the oil before adding the next batch. It's important to do this slowly, otherwise the olive oil will not properly combine with the dough.
Use a silicone spatula to flip the dough over periodically to help the dough hook catch and knead in the oil. Once you’ve added in your last batch of olive oil, add fine sea salt and mix thoroughly until all the oil has been absorbed.
7. Bump the mixer speed up to high and mix until you hear a popping sound and the dough wraps around the dough hook, about 1 - 2 minutes. The dough will be smooth but sticky.
8. Now that the dough is fully mixed, place it in a lightly oiled bowl about three times the size of the dough ball. I love using these food storage containers for my dough.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap over the bowl, covering it, and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until it expands to three times its original size. It's crucial not to rush this process. Achieving fluffy focaccia requires allowing the dough to rise completely.
If your surroundings are cold or you live in a chilly environment, the rise time may take longer.
9. Once the dough has risen, it's time to generously oil the bottom and sides of a 12 x 18 inch (30 x 45 cm) sheet pan with the infused garlic olive oil.
Then, stretch the dough by allowing gravity to naturally pull the dough until it reaches the edge of the sheet pan. If you notice the dough pulling back to the center, allow it to rest in the sheet pan for an additional 10 minutes, then continue stretching.
10. Next, let's make the topping for the focaccia. This is how the garlic flavor is infused into the bread. Whisk water and the garlic infused olive oil in a small bowl until combined. This mixture of water and oil is a secret trick I learned in culinary school. It helps to achieve a crispy crust.
Use your fingertips to make indentations on top of the focaccia dough.
11. Evenly pour the water and oil mixture on top of the dimpled focaccia.
12. Cover sheet pan with plastic wrap and allow the dough to proof in a warm (75°F - 80°F or 24°C - 27°C), draft-free place until tripled in size, about 60 minutes. At this point, you'll want to be very careful with the dough! Don't knock it around too much or you could push out the air that was built during the proofing stage.
13. The last step is baking and cooling the focaccia bread. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the top. Then, place the focaccia on a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel. This helps the dough to stay nice and soft.
The last step before serving your focaccia is reheating it. Italian focaccia is a twice-baked bread. Meaning, you'll need to reheat it for 18 - 20 minutes at 350°F (180°C) on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- I don't recommend storing the focaccia bread at room temperature unless you plan on eating it that same day. Focaccia is an Italian bread that should always be reheated before it's served. Because of this, I'd suggest storing the focaccia in an airtight bag in the freezer until you're ready to serve. It stays better for longer in the freezer. Don't worry, this won't mess with the taste or texture of the bread.
- One of the perks of using garlic oil instead of straight garlic on the focaccia bread is that the garlic olive oil will not leave you with stinky breath because the garlic has fermented and released these malodorous gasses.
- Maintaining organization is key when baking bread. Before starting the baking process, ensure that you measure out your ingredients (mise en place). Additionally, I recommend thoroughly reading through the entire recipe so that you are aware of what to anticipate.
The rising process for this dough is time-intensive, requiring approximately 3 to 5 hours, based on my recipe testing.
The ambient temperature inside your home and the outdoor temperature can impact the rise time. As a general guideline, colder environments result in a lengthier rising period for the dough.
If, after waiting for 5 to 8 hours, the dough hasn't tripled in size, it's likely that your yeast is no longer active. I recommend buying new yeast and re-starting the recipe.
Focaccia is a bread known for its light and airy texture. When baking, handle the dough with care to preserve as much air as possible.
Pay particular attention to the proofing stage, the rise before baking. Avoid re-indenting the bread with your fingers during this phase, as it can expel the air from the dough, resulting in a denser texture.
Also, ensure that your yeast is not expired. The use of expired yeast may hinder proper rising and contribute to the denseness of the focaccia bread.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place sliced focaccia on the baking sheet and freeze, just until firm. Place the frozen bread in an airtight container in the freezer until you're ready to serve. Then, follow the serving instructions listed on the recipe card below for the frozen bread.
More Focaccia Recipes
Italian Garlic Focaccia Bread
- mason jar
- rubber band
- metal half sheet pan (12 x 18 x 1 inch or 30 x 45 cm)
- tea towel
Infused Garlic Oil
- 1 cup garlic cloves (about 4 heads)
- 16.9 ounces extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon infused garlic oil plus more for greasing the sheet pan
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon room temperature water
- 2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt flakes
For Infused Garlic Oil
- Pulse garlic cloves in a food processor until roughly chopped.
- Combine extra virgin olive oil and chopped garlic in a mason jar. Cover mason jar with a coffee filter secured with a rubber band. Allow garlic and oil to sit at room temperature in a dark, cool room for 48 hours.
- Strain and discard garlic.
- Store infused oil in a sterilized dark-colored bottle with a sealed lid (you can reuse the bottle the oil came in) away from light and heat.
For Focaccia Dough
- Mix bread flour and instant dry yeast in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment on medium low speed. With the mixer running, slowly add water in three batches. Allow the flour to completely absorb the water before adding the next batch.
- Combine sugar; mix thoroughly.
- Slowly pour extra virgin olive oil in the center of the dough in four batches. Mix on medium low speed and allow the flour to absorb the oil before adding the next batch. The extra virgin olive oil takes a while to incorporate. Use a silicone spatula to flip the dough over periodically to help the dough hook catch and knead in the oil. Once you’ve added in your last batch of olive oil, add fine sea salt and mix thoroughly until all the oil has absorbed.
- Bump the mixer speed up to high and mix until you hear a popping sound and the dough wraps around the dough hook, about 1 - 2 minutes. The dough will be smooth but very sticky.
- Roll the dough into a tight ball, then place in an oiled bowl roughly three times the size of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until tripled in size. Rise time will vary depending on the temperature of your environment.
For Focaccia Topping
- Generously oil the bottom and sides of a 12 x 18 inch (30 x 45 cm) sheet pan with garlic infused olive oil. Use gravity to allow the dough to naturally stretch until it reaches the edge of the sheet pan. If you notice the dough pulling back to center, allow it to rest in the sheet pan for an additional 10 minutes, then continue stretching.
- Whisk ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (60 grams) garlic infused olive oil and ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon (60 grams) water in a small bowl until combined.
- Use your fingertips to make indentations on top of the focaccia dough. Evenly pour the water and oil mixture on top of the dimpled focaccia.
- Cover sheet pan with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm (75°F - 80°F or 24°C - 27°C), draft-free place until tripled in size, about 60 minutes.
- Place oven rack in an upper middle slot. Heat oven to 430°F (220°C).
- Carefully remove plastic wrap from sheet pan without knocking any air out of the bread dough. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown and crispy on the top. Place focaccia on a cooling rack and cover with a tea towel. Allow focaccia to cool to room temperature before removing from the pan and slicing into individual pieces.
- To serve, heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place focaccia slices on top. Bake for 18 -20 minutes until warmed through and crunchy on the outside.