Mix together the water, maple syrup, and the yeast in a small, nonmetallic bowl. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes for it to proof. (If you do not get a layer of foam over the water, you will need to try again with new yeast.)
In a mixer, add the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and half the Herbes de Provence, then mix well. Add 1/4 cup of the oil, plus the yeast mixture to the bowl with the flour. Mix just until it comes together.
Knead using a dough hook on your stand mixer for 5 minutes, or by hand on a floured surface for 10 minutes. The dough should come together in a silky ball. If the dough doesn’t come together or seems too wet, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of extra flour to the dough.
Use half a tablespoon of the oil to lightly grease a large bowl. Place the dough in the ball and cover with plastic wrap. Leave to rise at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour, when it is about doubled in size.
Chop the garlic in half. Lightly grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet with some of the oil, then rub the skillet with the cut side of the garlic. Finely dice the garlic.
Deflate the dough and place into the oiled skillet and spread out to the edges. Top with the remaining herbs, salt, and the chopped garlic. Add the parmesan if using.
Tightly wrap with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving.