This is one of those recipes that you can figure out on your own. That’s what I did after seeing a photo of a beautiful focaccia that reminded me of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” painting. There are many examples of “garden focaccia” on the Web that you can look at to get inspired.
And when you do, just follow a focaccia recipe that you like and be sure to assemble all of the toppings you’ll need to paint your masterpiece. Get creative. You can even create holiday-themed focaccia. How about using green peppers to create a Christmas tree and then decorating it with banana pepper ring garland, red pepper and golden chickpea ornaments. I also find that capers are great to fill in the dimples you make in the dough.
The first time I created one of these I followed a recipe for stuffed focaccia on the King Arthur Flour website. It came out great and was very tasty (You can fill this focaccia with whatever cheeses and herbs you have on hand) but it only created one focaccia. For Christmas I wanted to create more as gifts so I followed the recipe below from “The Italian Baker” cookbook by Carol Field. This is an authentic recipe from Genoa that creates three focaccias. In the cookbook, Ms. Field offers three ways to make the focaccia: by hand, by mixer, by processor. I followed the “by hand” recipe.
- Active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
- Lukewarm water (1/4 cup)
- More Lukewarm water (2 1/4 cups, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons)
- Olive Oil (2 tablespoons)
- Unbleached flour (7 1/2 cups)
- Kosher Salt (1 tablespoon)
- Step 1 Stir the yeast into the 1/4 cup of water and let stand for 10 minutes
- Step 2 Stir in 2 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon of water and the olive oil
- Step 3 Add 2 cups of flour and salt and stir until smooth
- Step 4 Stir in remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough comes together
- Step 5 Knead on a floured surface until velvety and soft (about 8-10 minutes)
- Step 6 First Rise, place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours
- Step 7 Second Rise, cut dough into three equal pieces and shape each piece into a thick disk. Roll out each disk to a 9- 10-inch circle and place in an oiled pie plate or round jelly-roll pan. Cover with towels and let rise for 30 minutes
- Step 8 Third Rise, dimple the dough with your fingertips about 1/2 inch deep so that olive oil can pool there. Cover with moist towels and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours)
- Step 9 Create your masterpiece using peppers, capers, olives, tomatoes, chickpeas, whatever you like
- Step 10 Brush olive oil gently over the entire focaccia and then sprinkle salt. You can also sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese over it. And then spray some water over the whole thing before putting it in a preheated 400 degree oven
- Step 11 Use baking stones if you have them. And place pans on the stones. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, carefully watching it so it doesn’t burn
- Step 12 Note: If you’re not going to eat this immediately, do not refrigerate. Just cover with some aluminum foil. It will even keep this way overnight