Valentine's Day VEGAN Garlic & Rosemary Focaccia

I’ve realised over the course of 2020 that I love to make bread! I find the whole process really therapeutic and relaxing and at the end of it you end up with something much more versatile than just a cake (although cakes are great) and with so many different types of bread to make, you can always be learning! This time I thought I would make something that we could impress our loved ones with (or just impress yourself) on Valentine's Day. I and my partner don’t particularly do anything that special on Valentine’s Day, we don’t give each other cards or gifts but we always make sure we have a lovely dinner, so to show my appreciation I’m making a Rosemary & Garlic Focaccia bread that could be used as a starter/appetiser to a pasta dish, pizza or soup, and the best part? It uses very simple ingredients and only takes 15 mins in the oven! 

Serves 6

For The Dough 

500g Strong White Flour 
7g Instant Yeast 
1 tsp Salt 
Olive Oil for greasing 

For The Topping 

2 tbsp Olive Oil 
2 Rosemary Branches, use just the needles and finely chop
2 Garlic Cloves, peel and finely chop 
1 tsp Sea Salt 
Ground Black Pepper 

To start, combine flour, yeast, and salt with up to 350ml water and mix together with a wooden spoon until you have a loose and scraggy dough. 

Tip your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until you have a smooth, soft dough. 

Cover the inside of a medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, put a tea towel over the top and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 mins. 

Whilst the dough is rising you can prepare your garlic and rosemary toppings. Just chop them into small pieces that’ll easily cook in the oven. 

About 10 mins before you get your dough, grease a baking/roasting tray and let it sit in the oven for a few minutes so it's warm for the dough. 
Place the dough into your tray, I gently pushed it around to reach all corners and made sure it was evenly spread out all the way around. 

Drizzle the dough with olive oil and add rosemary, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. 

With your finger, gently press dimples all over the dough and then leave it to rest again for another 30 mins. 

Preheat your oven to 240C/ 220 Fan/ Gas Mark 8 and after its 30 min rest, pop the focaccia in the oven for between 15-18 mins. Turn it every 5-7 mins until your dough is crunchy on top and a light golden colour. 
As soon as you take the focaccia out of the oven, drizzle a bit more olive oil over the top and cut into squares to serve! 

What a beautiful dish! The toppings work incredibly well, the garlic isn’t really strong at all, and the rosemary has such a fragrant taste, the sea salt makes a huge difference to the texture and taste of the bread, and that olive oil just pulls everything together, I couldn’t ask for more! Although this isn’t the most technically challenging bread, it really makes up for it in appearance, I think anybody would be happy to see/smell this on their dinner table at any time of year but especially Valentine’s Day. I had a lot of fun making this and will definitely make it again using different toppings (I’ve seen a Christmas cranberry one…so watch out for that in December!). I know Valentine’s Day can be a lonely time for some, even more so this year, so if you are spending it alone or on a socially-distanced Zoom date with the one you love, then maybe treat yourself by making this beautiful focaccia…and gorging on it all to yourself! 

Happy Valentine's Day! 

H x