I used to dislike focaccia and thought it was a sad topping-less version of pizza, pizza’s younger slightly depressed cousin. After all, I don’t even like eating pizza crusts, so why would I make something that is essentially one big pizza crust? Enter this easy homemade garlic focaccia to change my mind.
This recipe is totally based on the focaccia and dip I used to live on during my first pregnancy, from La Tagliatella, a high-quality chain of Italian restaurants here. Perfectly soft pillowy focaccia bread infused with tons of garlic, herbs, and olive oil, with a fresh tasty bruschetta dip.
The sauce basically takes all the ingredients of bruschetta, whizzed up together. The homemade focaccia is the perfect consistency and has the perfect heft for dredging in and scooping up the yummy dip, made with fresh tomatoes, basil, olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar.
In another nudge towards its more successful cousin (pizza fangirling here), you can also press some toppings into your focaccia. As you can see from the photos, I prefer to top it with sliced onions that then get crispy and sweet and blackened.
Other great toppings are sliced olives, sliced tomatoes, herbs herbs herbs…ooh and paper-thin sliced potatoes. Although don’t get too enthusiastic about your toppings or you will end up with the top of your focaccia slightly soggy and under-cooked, and definitely press toppings in deeply with your fingers or they will not charmingly-brown, they will blacken to a hell-burnt crisp.
This recipe has lots of olive oil – and I mean lots. It’s totally worth it but if you’re counting calories this is probably not the focaccia for you. It’s great served as a starter when entertaining, cut up and serve with the bruschetta dip and a platter of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, stuffed pimentos, grapes, whatever takes your fancy.
Or use it to make a tasty open top sandwich. It’s also perfect for sopping some soup up with, and absolutely amazing with my roast pear pepper and tomato soup.
Make, and dig into this easy perfect focaccia with a soft inside and a crispy onion studded exterior. I bake it in a pyrex 8×10 inch baking dish because:
- I prefer to be able to inspect the sides and bottom.
- I like my focaccia nice and thick
You can make it in a casserole dish or baking pan. It came out just how I wanted, nice and thick, but if you’d prefer a thinner focaccia or one for making open-faced sandwiches, then switch to a 9×13 inch, no change in baking time necessary.
How to make this easy homemade garlic focaccia and bruschetta dip
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (the flour, the yeast, and the salt). Heat the olive oil to medium-high, and then add in the garlic and herbs.
Allow the raw garlic smell to cook off, and then take off the heat and leave to cool a little. The garlic should be barely coloured, even just barely golden, but do NOT allow it to brown or it will give your focaccia a bitter taste.
When the oil has cooled down enough to not sizzle if you mix it with a cooler liquid, divide it in half and whisk one half together with the soy milk and water. Reserve the rest of the oil, as you’ll need it, later on, to drizzle across and dimple into the top of the garlic focaccia.
Mix the wet into the dry ingredients. You can either stir the ingredients until the dough comes together as much as possible, and then oil up your hands and get them in there to knead the dough, or be lazy like me and get your food processor to do the work with the kneading attachment.
If you’re mixing the dough by hand, work the dough, kneading and folding it, for around roughly 3-4 minutes until it’s smooth and springs back when you poke a hole in it with your finger. If you’re using a food processor set it to knead for 4 minutes (time it, unless you have a glamorous one with a timer switch, which I don’t have) and then transfer it to a bowl.
Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or cling film, and leave to rise for one hour.
Knock the dough back (I always do this part by hand rather than fight the food processor as the dough starts sticking to the bowl), knead it 2 minutes and use your hands to squish it into the oiled baking tray/dish of your choice, and more or less level it. I use a pastry brush and some of the reserved garlic-herb oil to oil the dish on the bottom and sides.
Leave for 15 minutes, covered with a damp cloth or cling film, then see if it the edges of your dough have crept inwards and need to be teased or smushed out again with your fingers to properly fill the baking dish or tray.
Dimple the top of your focaccia heavily with your fingertips, and pour over the reserved oil. Dimple again. Add the sliced onion, press down halfway it into the surface, and dimple with your fingers again.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes at 180C or 160C Fan (350F or 320F Fan) in the bottom third of the oven. Set either a baking tray above it or some tented tin foil to prevent over-browning.
I personally prefer setting a tray and inch or two above the top of my focaccia bread instead of using tinfoil. Now would be the perfect time to make the bruschetta dip!
Just toss all the ingredients for the dip into a blender or food processor and blend until everything is fully incorporated (it doesn’t need to be perfectly smooth, see the photos of it). Cover and chill for the remainder of the garlic focaccia baking time (or for at least 20 minutes).
Remove the tray or foil above the focaccia in the oven and bake in the middle for a further ten minutes uncovered or until brown enough to your liking.
Your homemade focaccia can then be tipped out on to a wire tray to cook and eat as soon as your fingers and mouth can take the heat! Slice it in thick wedges and serve with the bruschetta dip.
If you do end up making this recipe, please leave a star rating in the recipe card and a review, or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @the_fiery_vegetarian, I love seeing what you guys get up to!
And if you loved this post then you might want to check out some of my more recent recipes in:
- Easy Light Lemon Lentil Soup
- Easy Homemade Bread Recipe
- Vegan Dal Tadka Recipe in 25 minutes
- Vegan Gur Cake – a traditional Dublin dessert
- Easy Vegan Irish Stew with Guinness
- 500 g white flour
- 1 sachet dry yeast, 7g
- 3/4 tsp salt
- ½ cup ( 120ml) olive oil
- 4 cloves crushed garlic
- 1.5 teaspoons dried rosemary chopped
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 cup warm sugar-free soy milk (240ml)
- 1/4 cup warm water (60ml)
- 1/2 small onion sliced into thin half moons
- 6 large ripe but firm tomatoes, seeded and roughly chopped
- 20 g fresh chopped basil (stalks and all)
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Mix the dry ingredients (the flour, the yeast, and the salt) in a bowl.
- Heat the oil to medium-high, and then add in the garlic and herbs. Allow the raw garlic smell to cook off, and then take off the heat and leave to cool a little.
- Mix the soy milk and water together, add half the oil when it's cooled down a bit but still warm. (not if it's sizzling hot! DANGEROUS!). Reserve the rest of the oil, you'll need it later on.
- Mix the wet into the dry ingredients. Stir the ingredients until the dough comes together as much as possible. Then oil up your hands and get them in there! Work the dough, kneading and folding it, for around roughly 3-4 minutes until it's smooth and springs back when you poke a hole in it with your finger.
- Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or cling film, and leave to rise for one hour.
- Knock the dough back, knead it 2 minutes and either roll it out or use your hands to squish it into the oiled baking tray/dish of your choice. I use a pastry brush and some of the reserved garlic herb oil to oil the dish on the bottom and sides.
- Leave for 15 minutes, covered with a damp cloth or cling film, then see if it the edges of your dough have crept inwards and need to be teased or smushed out again with your fingers.
- Dimple the top of your focaccia with your fingertips, and pour over the reserved oil. Add the sliced onion, pressing it into the surface, and dimpling with your fingers again.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes at 180C or 160C (fan), with either a tray above it or covered with tin foil to prevent overbrowning. Now would be the perfect time to make the bruschetta dip!
- Remove the tray or foil and bake in the middle for a further ten minutes or until brown enough to your liking.
- This focaccia can then be tipped out on to a wire tray to cook and eaten as soon as your fingers and mouth can take the heat! I recommend slicing it into thick rectangular wedges and enjoying it with the bruschetta dip.
- Chuck everything in the blender. Blend (embarrassingly simple, I know).
- Decant the sauce to a dish or tupperware container and leave to chill in the fridge for at least twenty minutes.
- Serve with good bread to mop it up!
You can use any plant-based milk but I find that soy milk tends to give softer results in baking.
Serving Size3 slices
Amount Per Serving Calories 507Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 0mgSodium 460mgCarbohydrates 78gFiber 3gSugar 27gProtein 8g