How to Bake Focaccia with Fiddlehead Ferns

We found an unbeatable combination – fiddlehead ferns and focaccia. The edible fiddlehead fern is one of the early signs of spring, with the coiled green shoots appearing on the barren forest floor and announcing the change of season. But they are only around for a very brief time – and go in and out of stock – which is one of the reasons the fiddlehead has a cult following among chefs. Read on for a fun way to enjoy this foraged food.

The Importance of Proper Prep

Begin by rinsing fiddleheads in a colander, then soaking in cold water and draining them again. This will remove the brown papery skin and any forest debris. If properly washed and stored in a sealable bag, fiddleheads will last for about a week in the refrigerator.

Cooking fiddlehead ferns correctly is important. They should always be boiled or blanched before use. Never eat them raw or undercooked. Once blanched, fiddleheads are wonderful sautéed in butter until tender-crisp. They make a great addition to pasta, grain salads, and stir-fries, and as a side dish for meat, poultry, and fish. Blanched fiddleheads are also well-suited to pickling and freezing.

Our Favorite Focaccia

Focaccia is a yeasty bread that is found in Mediterranean cuisines. Similar in style and texture to pizza, focaccia is rolled out or pressed by hand and baked in a hearth oven (if you have one) or more likely in a sheet pan and a plain old kitchen oven. Bakers poke holes to relieve bubbling on the surface, which creates a dimpled surface just perfect for soaking up fine olive oils (try our exclusive Jean Reno olive oil from France for a treat).

Our secret ingredient for focaccia is duck fat. Here’s the recipe, adapted slightly to add the fiddlehead ferns on top before baking.

Focaccia Ingredients

  • 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1⅔ cup warm water (about 110 degrees F)
  • ½ cup duck fat, melted, divided use – or olive oil
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Cleaned and blanched fiddlehead ferns to cover the top
  • Roughly chopped or thick slices of garlic, to taste
  • 1½ teaspoons Maldon salt, or coarse salt of your choice


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, stir together yeast and warm water. Let stand about 5-10 minutes until foamy. Add 2 cups bread flour, 2 cups all-purpose flour, ¼ cup duck fat (or olive oil), and coarse salt.

2. Beat until mixture comes together. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead on medium-low speed until dough is smooth and elastic. The finished dough should be just slightly sticky, so add additional flour a little at a time, if needed.

3. Gently round dough into a ball and place in a large bowl that’s been lightly greased with duck fat or olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise in a warm location until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.

4. Generously grease a 14”x11” baking pan with duck fat or olive oil.

5. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead gently by hand. Press the dough evenly into the pan and cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow to rise until doubled again, about 1 hour.

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with rack in the center.

7. Using your fingers, or the end of a wooden spoon greased with duck fat, press deep indents into the dough at 1” intervals. Gently press fiddleheads all over the top of the dough. Brush with remaining duck fat, or olive oil, allowing the fat to pool into indentations, then sprinkle with Maldon salt. Spread garlic slices over the surface.

8. Bake until bread is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pan then slice and serve.

Serve with ramp butter if you are lucky enough to have some, or with a shallow bowl of olive oil for dipping. Wrapped in plastic, focaccia will keep for about 3 days.

If you make it, share some photos with us on social media. Head to our Instagram for more inspiration and the how-to video.

Since 1985, D’Artagnan has been at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, producing superior-tasting products by partnering with small ranches and farms. We are committed to free-range, natural production, sustainable and humane farming practices, and no use of antibiotics or hormones. That’s why D’Artagnan products have been revered by America’s most renowned chefs for nearly 40 years. We offer the same high-quality products to home cooks at, along with recipes and guides to help you live the tasty life.

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