9 May 2017

Wild Garlic Focaccia

As anyone with even a vague interest in wild food knows, spring is the season for wild garlic - a pungent wild allium which grows in woodlands, and which has become very popular in recent years. A couple of weeks ago, I was out walking and found a vast sea of wild garlic stretching as far as I could see into the trees. I picked a bag full, stuck it in my rucksack and carried on walking. I spent the next few days making pesto with it, chucking it in a stir fry, mixing it through ragu, and anything else I could think of. A week later I went walking with my Mum and she turned up with a very full carrier bag of wild garlic, and I had to think of more ways of using it. I made a wild garlic focaccia, which was delicious.

A sea of wild garlic...

This is a pretty easy bread to make, especially if you have a stand mixer or food processor with a dough hook. I use more yeast in it that with some other breads, so it can easily be made in a morning in time for lunch. It is pretty easy to shape, and can be baked either on a flat tray or in a Swiss roll tin. I use a mix of strong bread flour and '00' flour, which mimics Italian bread flour, but if you do not have any '00' flour, 100% strong flour will do fine.


250g strong white flour
250g '00' flour
50g extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
7g instant yeast
7g sea salt
a pinch of flaked sea salt (such as maldon) for sprinkling
approx 350ml lukewarm water


Weigh the flour, salt, yeast and oil into a bowl. If you are using a stand mixer, start mixing the ingredients on the slowest setting. As it turns, slowly add the water so that a dough is formed. Keep adding the water until the dough starts to stick to the bottom of the bowl, then turn the speed up to the correct kneading speed (2 on a Kitchen Aid) for 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.

If kneading by hand, bring the dough together in a bowl with the water, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash, dry then chop the wild garlic leaves. Add to the dough in the mixer, then mix on the slowest setting to incorporate thoroughly into the dough. This should take about a minute.

If kneading by hand, stretch the dough out, sprinkle the wild garlic over the dough, then fold the dough over and knead and fold for a couple of minutes until the wild garlic is incorporated through the dough.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm until it doubles in size. This will take about an hour, but times will vary.

Line your tin with silicone paper. If you don't have any silicone paper, oil the tin and dust with semolina flour. Don't use normal greaseproof as this has a tendency to stick to bread.

Dust your work surface and tip out your dough. Use your fingers to press the dough out into an oblong a little smaller than your tin. Carefully lift the dough into the tin and, using your fingers again, push into the corners.

Cover with a clean tea towel and leave until the loaf has risen significantly. It will be ready when you press a finger into the dough and a dent stays in the dough. If the dough springs back it is not ready. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 250C, or if it doesn't go that high, to its highest temperature.

When the loaf has fully risen it is time for the fun bit which will make your focaccia look like a focaccia. Make both hands into claws, then press your fingers repeatedly into the dough until it is full of dimples. Drizzle extra virgin oil into all the dimples, then sprinkle lightly with sea salt flakes.

Place in the oven and turn the temperature down to 220C. Bake for about 25 minutes. For focaccia you don't want the top to get too brown. If the loaf looks like it is browning too much, turn the heat down a little. When the loaf is fully cooked, it should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Remove the loaf from the tin and place on a cooling rack to cool.

Wild garlic focaccia
If you are looking for other things to cook with wild garlic, have a look at my recipes for wild garlic pesto, wild garlic soup and veal chops with marsala and wild garlic.

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