Soft and fragrant olive oil Focaccia Art topped with vegetables. This focaccia is super easy to make, really fun to decorate and tastes absolutely delicious!
Focaccia - the easiest bread to make
Focaccia bread is hands-down the easiest type of bread to make at home. It's very forgiving, doesn't require expert kneading and it comes out soft and delicious!
If you're just starting out with bread baking, I recommend trying out this recipe to tear and share with the loved ones - or devour it all yourself, I won't tell if you don't.
This amazing Italian flatbread is almost like a cousin of the beloved pizza dough, but a bit on the fluffier side. Traditionally it's served as an antipasto or appetiser, but it can be used as table bread, for snacking on with dips or even to make delicious sandwiches.
This recipe calls for no fancy equipment and all it needs it a tiny bit of patience.
Traditionally, focaccia is made with strong white (bread) flour, but I find it can make the dough a bit too dense. The best option is to use a 1:1 ratio of plain white flour and bread flour. This will make the dough crusty on the outside, but light and fluffy on the inside.
Extra-virgin olive oil
Olive oil is absolutely essential in order to get the authentic focaccia taste. A high quality extra-virgin olive oil will have a more refined taste, and a wonderful olive fragrance. The oil will add a gorgeous flavour to the focaccia. If you don't have any fancy extra-virgin oil to use, don't worry - any olive oil will still make your focaccia taste wonderful.
Any type of dough needs a bit of help growing and forming those lovely pockets of air that we all love. The best way to do this is by using yeast - either instant dry or fresh. Fresh yeast is typically more reliable and will always give a great rise, however, dry yeast is also a perfect contender. Mixing honey in with the yeast will feed it and allow it to activate and grow much faster. Plus, honey will make anything taste great!
In addition to all the fragrant olive oil and juicy veggies we are adding to the focaccia, fresh herbs will work wonders when it comes to taste. Fresh rosemary is used traditionally for focaccia, but don't be scared to go wild and experiment! I like a combination of fresh thyme, basil and curly parsley - these herbs perfectly compliment each other and enhance the overall taste of the focaccia.
Spring veggies for days!
This focaccia art recipe is an ode to all the amazing vegetables we enjoy in the spring. Not only do they add amazingly vibrant colours, but they also make the focaccia taste incredibly fresh and juicy. The vegetables will bake at the same time as your dough, which will make them slightly crispy, but still sweet and roasted on the inside.
Choosing the vegetables is entirely up to personal preference, I generally go for anything that has vibrant colours - more colour, more nutrients!
What I like to use
The veggies I used in this recipe are: mixed colour cherry tomatoes, tender stem broccoli, spring onions, red and yellow bell peppers, chestnut mushrooms, green beans and asparagus. I also used sweet corn and peas as decoration, along with pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
For the fresh herbs, I'm a massive fan of thyme and basil, and I also used some curly parsley.
How to make focaccia
The steps for making this veggie spring focaccia are the same as for traditional focaccia without vegetables. You can also find a more detailed description in the recipe card below.
- Activating the yeast - In a small bowl add 75ml of warm water, the yeast and honey. Mix it to dissolve the yeast and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Preparing the dough - In a large bowl combine the plain and bread flour, salt, water, yeasted mixture and olive oil. Mix well until a sticky dough forms.
- Kneading the dough - On a floured surface, knead the dough for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth and bounces back when pressed on.
- Proofing the dough - Grease a large bowl with olive oil and place your dough. Cover with cling film and let proof for 1 hour.
- Second proofing - Once the dough has doubled in size, we can place it in the lined and greased baking tray. Use your fingers to stretch the dough slowly, and create 'dimples' by poking it with your fingers. Cover with cling film and let rise for 20 minutes whilst you prepare the vegetables
- Decorating the focaccia - Once the dough has proved, start decorating with the vegetables to create a spring landscape.
- Baking the focaccia - Generously drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle coarse sea salt on top, along with other herbs (thyme, rosemary). Bake at 220C (or 200C fan) for 15 minutes. Turn around the tray and bake for another 10 minutes.
Focaccia art - how to decorate
Focaccia art decorating is a really fun creative process. There's no rule to it, just add whatever vegetables you like to form a spring landscape with flowers, trees, sun and birds. I like to use brightly coloured vegetables such as multi-colour cherry tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers and sweet corn.
It's easier to start from the top, and add the sun - formed from thin strips of yellow bell pepper. Then the stalks of the flowers can be spring onions, asparagus or green beans cut in half. The flowers can be made from either red bell pepper or red and orange cherry tomatoes. For a bloomed flower you can use curly parsley.
Storing the focaccia
A simple focaccia can last for up to 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container or cling film. With all the vegetables we are adding however, I recommend consuming the focaccia within 1 day for maximum freshness.
Focaccia can be frozen as well; wrap in cling film and freeze for up to 3-4 weeks. Once ready to eat, let it thaw for a few hours, then reheat in the over for 10-15 minutes.
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Focaccia Art (Spring Focaccia with Vegetables)
- 40 x 25 cm (15 x 10 inces) baking tray
- 7 g instant dry yeast (1 satchel)
- 75 g water, warm (⅓ cup)
- 200 g plain white flour (1 ⅔ cups)
- 150 g strong white (bread) flour (1 ¼ cups)
- 50 g olive oil (3 tbsp)
- 8 g honey (1 tsp)
- 200 g water, tepid (¾ cup)
- 50 g olive oil (¼ cup)
- 1 tablespoon salt flakes
- 2 bell peppers, colourful
- 6 tender stem broccoli
- 8 cherry tomatoes
- 5-6 asparagus
- 1 tablespoon sweet corn
- 1 tablespoon green peas
- 1-2 sprigs thyme / parsley / basil
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- In a small bowl, add the warm water and the yeast. Mix it with a spoon until it dissolves. Add the honey in and let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes to activate.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the plain white flour with the strong bread flour and the salt.
- Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast mixture, the olive oil and the rest of the water.
- With a wooden spoon or spatula mix the wet and dry ingredients until you form a sticky dough.
- Gently flour your work surface and start kneading your dough. Add a little flour so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, but be careful not to add too much, so the dough doesn’t become too dense.
- Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and bounces back when you press on it with your finger.
- Grease a large bowl with olive oil and place your dough in. Sprinkle the dough with a little olive oil too, then cover with cling film and let prove for 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, place it in a lined and greased baking tray. Using your fingers, gently push the dough into the tray to deflate some air and stretch it to cover the entire surface.
- Use your fingers to create the traditional focaccia dimples. Cover with cling film and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables.
- You can choose from a variety of fresh vegetables to decorate the focaccia with - basically anything goes. Cut some in thin strips, others in smaller cubes, and keep some larger in size for variety.
- Arrange the vegetables to form a spring landscape. You can use yellow and orange peppers for the sun, asparagus and spring onions for the trees and cherry tomatoes, sliced mushrooms and curly parsley for flowers. Once you’re happy with your decoration sprinkle generously with olive oil, thyme and sea salt.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C (390°F) fan-assisted for 15 minutes. After this, turn the focaccia around in the oven to prevent burning and bake for a further 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Once ready, let it cool slightly on a wire rack, then serve whilst still warm. Enjoy!
- I recommend using a kitchen scale in grams for more accuracy. The cups used for the conversion are standard US customary cups (1 cup flour = 136g). There are many different types of cups across the globe, which is why I strongly recommend using grams instead.
- Storing: you can store any remaining focaccia in the fridge for up to 2 days, or you can wrap it in cling film and freeze for up to 3-4 weeks. Just reheat it in the oven after thawing it.
- Vegetables: you can use any vegetables you like. Do not overload the focaccia with too many vegetables, however, as it can make the dough harder to bake and remain under-baked.
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