Wild Garlic Focaccia
Fill your house with the glorious scents of wild garlic and baking bread with this delicious focaccia. It’s one of the easiest of all breads to make: although it takes a little time, it is a brilliantly low-effort method, with the bread taking care of itself for most of the duration. The dough will seem quite wet and sloppy at first, but fear not – after three brief risings and even briefer kneadings, you’ll find you have a wonderfully smooth, pliable, airy dough. The important thing is to use your best olive oil, and to be generous: a good focaccia should be spongey, salty and glistening with little puddles of oil.
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 1 × 7g sachet of easy-blend fast action yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling the bowl, work surface and baking pan
- 1 small handful wild garlic (about 40g) washed and drained
- Maldon salt, for sprinkling
- Put the flour into a large bowl with the yeast and salt, and stir to mix. Pour 300ml warm water into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Depending on your flour, you may need to add more warm water, to form a soft, sticky dough. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave for 10 minutes.
- After ten minutes is up, oil your work surface generously, spreading the oil with your hands. Keeping your hands oily, turn out the dough onto the oiled surface. At the stage, the dough will be sloppy and seem unmanageable. Just knead it lightly for 10 seconds, by repeatedly scooping it up in your fingers and flopping it over onto itself. Oil the inside of the bowl and put the dough back in. Cover the bowl with the cloth – and leave the oil on the work surface for the next kneading.
- Let the dough rise for ten minutes, then turn it out and knead lightly again for ten seconds. Return to the bowl and cover. Repeat this process one more time (totalling three rounds of kneading). Return it to the oiled bowl, cover it with the cloth and leave it to sit for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the wild garlic topping. Put the wild garlic and 1½ tablepoons of olive oil into a pestle and mortar and bash to rough paste, or whizz briefly in a food processor.
Generously oil a large (approximately 35cm × 25cm), deep baking tray and line the base with baking parchment. When the dough’s time is up, turn it out into the tin and gently press it out to fill the base of tray.
- Spread the wild garlic and oil mixture all over the surface of the dough, distributing it evenly.Using your fingertips, poke holes all over the dough, pushing all the way down to the bottom of the tray. Sprinkle Maldon salt generously over the top, cover the tin with cling film, then leave to rise for 1 hour. About 15 minutes before the hour is up, preheat your oven to 220˚C.
- Remove the cling film and bake the bread for 25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and drizzle over 1½ tablespoons olive oil, until the focaccia is glistening. Loosen the edges of the focaccia with a palette knife, transfer it to a board and serve warm.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK