Photo Credit: Bailey Van Tassel
It’s all the rage on Instagram and Pinterest these days: Focaccia Gardens. And for good reason! These beautiful breadscapes are both delicious and whimsical, but also quite easy! Focaccia is a light and airy bread that only requires about 90 minutes total of proofing (letting the bread sit and rise). You can load the dough with herbs and garlic, or leave it without and simply adorn with veggies.
This Focaccia Garden would be great for kids to help with, to offer as a fun take on a snack board, or to showcase for a special occasion like a baby shower or brunch. The key is to make sure your veggie toppings are thin enough to roast well in the oven. We have chosen more savory types to give the focaccia that traditional rich flavor, but there are so many creative ways to decorate this bread that the options are endless.
For The Focaccia:
- 1 ⅓ cup warm water about 110º
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup olive oil + more for drizzling
- 2 teaspoons salt
For The Toppings:
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 1 small can diced olives
- 2 chives
- 2 asparagus spears
- 1 bunch of parsley
- 2 shallots
- 4 basil leaves
- 4 cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup parmesan for garnish
- Activate the yeast in a stand mixer bowl by adding sugar and warm water and stirring. Wait about 5 minutes and allow yeast to foam.
- On your mixer’s slow setting, gradually add in flour, olive oil, and salt to create the dough. Increase speed just a notch for about 5 mins. If it looks sticky and isn’t pulling away from the bowl into a ball, then add a little more flour.
- Remove your dough and mold into a ball (don’t knead it, just shape it gently) and set into a greased bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and set in a warm place (like a sunny window) for about 1 hour to proof. The dough should double in size.
- Take your doubled dough and place onto a piece of floured parchment paper. Flatten into a rectangle that is about ½ inch thick. Cover again with a damp paper towel and let sit for 20 minutes to rise again.
- While your dough is doing it’s final rise, you can prepare your vegetables to decorate the bread. Cut the bell peppers into small triangles for flower petals, slice your asparagus in half lengthwise, take all the parsley leaves off the stems, slice tomatoes in half, and thinly slice shallots to make little rings.
- Preheat your oven to 400º and prepare your dough. Place onto a cookie sheet (while keeping it on your parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil. Press little dents into the dough all over, pushing your finger all the way to the pan, but not through the dough.
- Decorate with your veggies! Arrange them however you like, keeping in mind they will shrink a little bit. Top these with another drizzle of olive oil when finished.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until dough is just browned and veggies are soft. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and parmesan for a finishing touch.
- Best served warm out of the oven.