When I heard that the first Fiesta Friday challenge would involve yeast and herbs I was excited. In my mind, there are few things better than fresh warm bread and I love having a reason to experiment and try something new. I immediately knew I wanted to make a focaccia. I love the crunch bottom and sides and the fluffy soft inside.
I also really like baking cheeses into my breads and fontina seemed like a great choice for this Italian classic. The fontina adds a little saltiness and flavor without being overwhelming. However, I think the real star of this focaccia is the garlic and herb oil. The fresh herbs really bring this to life and well, I love garlic so a garlic infused oil is right up my alley. If you’re not such a garlic fan you can either use less or omit it.
Fontina Focaccia with Garlic Herb Oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/4 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups Fontina cheese, grated or shredded
Garlic Herb Oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
6-8 fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Begin by adding the water and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit for about ten minutes, until it starts to get frothy. Add the flour and salt to the yeast and water and begin to combine on the lowest speed. Slowly drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil into the dough while it combines. Once the dough starts to form a ball, add 1 cup of the fontina and let it continue to combine until you have a sticky dough ball. Remove the dough and place it in a bowl. Cover the bowel with a clean towel and let it rise for an hour.
2. While the dough is rising, make the garlic herb oil. Peel and smash the two cloves of garlic and place them in a microwave safe bowl with the olive oil. Place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Put the oil, garlic, basil and parsley in a food processor and pulse until the herbs and garlic are in small pieces.
3. Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large baking dish. Place the dough in the dish and spread it out as best you can. Then turn the dough over so both sides get oiled and spread it out a little more. It’s fine if it doesn’t reach the edges of the bowl. Use your fingers to dimple the surface of the dough and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil on top.
4. Bake the bread at 400 for about 30 minutes. Then place the rest of the fontina cheese on top of the bread. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the top just starts to brown. Remove from the oven and brush the garlic herb oil on top. Enjoy!