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Focaccia is Italian for "from the hearth".
Focaccia is a rich, spongey flatbread of Italian origin. Addictive, crumbly, with that characteristic earthy yeast aroma. As with most culinary mainstays, there are versions in most every culture, and region. There is also a sourdough version of focaccia.
Now imagine this mouthwatering bread as a the chewy base for oils, aromatic herbs, onions, peppers, olives, seeds, nuts, fruits,... decoratively placed on the dough as inspired by your inner artist. Termed "focaccia bread art" or "focaccia garden", these are stunning and delicious creations.
A few important lessons I discovered from working with this lovely bread art:
You can cut your vegetables to a thickness of 1/4 inch, as your cooking temperature and coating oil allow for them to cook at a higher heat longer, without burning, and, if in the oven long enough, begin to blacken. I use grapeseed oil to brush on the vegetables before baking, in my experience, it encourages the toppings to char slightly. If you'd prefer no char, then use olive oil as your coating oil and take the bread out of the oven sooner.
To keep the delicate herbs from discoloration and burning, dip them first in lemon water, dry them well, then ensure they are coated well with oil when placed on the bread before baking. Use 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 1 cup water.
Toppings with low moisture content are ideal, so they retain shape and don't make the bread soggy. Any fruits or vegetables with drainable pulp and liquid can be used as well. Slice cherry tomatoes in half and drain on paper towels before placing on bread. Do not use overly ripe fruits or veggies as they will be higher in water content.
Play with the amount of sugar in the bread dough. Most recipes use 1 tablespoon yet I increase that to 2-3 tablespoons. Personal preference. Also you may add extracts like vanilla or maple.
Regarding aesthetic design, pay attention to how the toppings appear after baking to achieve desired end result. Use colorful, flavorful toppings, and cut them in unexpected shapes. Ensure you push the toppings into the focaccia before baking.
In exploring the world of focaccia bread art, there is one definitive, extraordinarily well done blog on the subject, so MANY thanks to Teri Culletto, check out her talented work on Vineyardbaker.com.
Prep Time: 30 minutes active Yield: 1 half sheet pan or 2 quarter sheet pans
Oven temperature: 450 degrees
Stand mixer with bowl and dough hook
one half sheet pan 12x17 inches or two traditional quarter sized sheet pans