Try making this loaf for a supper party or barbecue as a simple nibble with oil for dipping, or serve with cold meats and salad for something more substantial.
Heat the oven to 200°C/180⁰C fan/Gas 6. Place the garlic cloves in a small baking tray and bake for 10 minutes, then remove them and finely chop.
Put the flour in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the chopped garlic and the herbs, olive oil and 270ml of hand-hot water (you may need 2–3 tablespoons more water if the mixture seems dry). Mix on low speed for 5 minutes, to a smooth and elastic dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly oiled surface and form into a ball. Lightly oil the mixer bowl, place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel or plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place or proving drawer for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, fry the pancetta in a small pan with a little olive oil for 2–3 minutes, until lightly browned. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside to cool.
Once the dough has doubled in size, add the Gruyère and the cooked pancetta and knead together. Divide the dough into 20 equal portions and shape each portion into a ball in the palms of your hands.
Arrange the dough balls on the prepared baking tray in a tree shape, or as desired, leaving a small gap in between each ball to allow for rising (if you don’t need all the balls to make your shape, bake the leftover balls separately). Place a slice of Padano cheese in between each ball. Place the tray in a plastic bag and prove in a warm place or proving drawer for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 220⁰C/200°C fan/Gas 7. Make indents in the dough with your fingers. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle with rock salt.
Bake the dough for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6 fan and bake for a further 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Drizzle the focaccia with a little extra olive oil and decorate with the rosemary sprigs. Serve with lemon-flavoured olive oil for dipping.