Garden Focaccia

Okay, I admit it, I got suckered in to the trend of vegetable-decorated focaccia– it’s just so pretty that I had to try it! I dipped my toe into the technique with my parsley-topped cheese biscuits, and they were adorable, so since I was already planning on making focaccia for a barbecue, it was the perfect time to give it a shot.

This particular attempt at the focaccia from Smitten Kitchen (which she got from Alexandra Stafford) is actually my second attempt– the first one failed miserably, refusing to rise at all and forcing me to make a last-minute trip to the grocery store for ciabatta to make the sandwiches I’d planned– so I had my fingers crossed that it would work this time. Happily, it rose beautifully and tasted fantastic– this will definitely be my standard focaccia recipe from now on.

I will note that the vegetables definitely look prettier before baking than after– especially the shallots, which lost pretty much all their color in the oven. Perhaps next time I’ll slice them thicker or use a really small red onion to see if the color shows up better that way. Halved cherry tomatoes still look great, though, as do the bell peppers. Next time I’ll really pile on the herbs– they shrank down a lot in the oven, so I could definitely use more. But overall I’m very pleased with the effect– so pretty and really delicious!

Focaccia (from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 4 cups (520 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Additional salt and vegetables for topping
  • Stir together flour, salt, and yeast. Add cold water and stir to form a soft dough.
  • Cover and let rise in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours
  • Pour three tablespoons of oil onto a half-sheet pan.
  • Carefully deflate your dough with two forks, pulling dough towards center, then use forks to transfer the ball of dough to your sheet pan, turning it over in the oil to coat.
  • Let the dough rest for an hour while you prep your vegetables and preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Stretch your dough out to cover your pan, then dimple with your fingers and sprinkle with more salt.
  • Arrange vegetables over the top, then brush gently with additional oil (especially any herbs).
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden.
  • Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

Tips for vegetable topping:

  • Mini bell peppers are great for this application– they often come in bags with multiple colors, and you can slice them in rings or strips for different-shaped flower petals.
  • Shallots are also very pretty, and you can slice them in rings or cross-wise to make different flower shapes.
  • Chives and green onions both work great for stems, and pretty much any leafy herb will work to fill in space.
  • Cherry tomatoes provide great color, and capers are nice for darker flower centers, particularly if you don’t care for olives.

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