With the start of Spring, I love the idea of Spring Bouquet Focaccia! Why not create a piece of art out of your delicious bread?
Speaking of art, I have never really felt overly creative in a traditional sense. I’m not an artist like my sweet friend Shelley. I’m not a musician (unless you consider clarinet in the 8th grade, which I don’t). I don’t really know how to sew or design clothing (unless, going back to 8th grade, you consider home ec, which I definitely don’t). But when it comes to food and entertaining, I feel like this is my creative outlet. I have come to realize that I am very creative, but in a non-traditional sense.
The good news is that you can be creative as well! Decorate the heck out of cakes and cookies! Plate your food like you are Rembrandt! Make happy faces on your pancakes! Most important, though, is to have fun with your food!
This Spring Bouquet Focaccia is such an easy way to elevate a simple focaccia and make it worthy of any gathering of friends or family (think Easter, graduation, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, showers…the list goes on and on).
The focaccia is very simple. We’re talking about 5 ingredients that can be kneaded by hand or in a mixer (my preferred method). The only sticking point for some people is that it needs to rise for one hour, then transfer it to the baking pan and let it rise for 30 more minutes. But, while the dough is doing its thing, you work on whatever else you’re serving with this.
Now, to decorate this focaccia, I went to the farmers market and got a large bundle of chives. You can also pick up a couple of boxes of chives to create the stems of the flowers. At the top of the chives, fan out flat-leaf parsley sprigs to form the leaves. The tomatoes are then added, after I cut them in different designs (split in four segments or sliced in half in a zigzag pattern. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a little flaky salt, and bake this beautiful bread.
Total Time: 35 minutes plus proof time of 1 hour 30 minutes
2 1/4 tsp (one 1/4-oz packet) active dry yeast
1 tsp honey
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tsp Kosher salt
2 boxes chives
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 pint cherry tomatoes
In a medium bowl, add the yeast, 1 cup lukewarm water (100–110°F), and the honey; stir to combine. Set aside just until foam forms on the surface of the liquid, about 5 minutes, then add 1/4 cup oil, followed by the flour and salt. Using a fork, stir until a dough forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and supple, about 10 minutes, then form into a ball. (Alternatively, pour oil in with yeast mixture and then put the liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour and salt, and, using the dough hook, knead the dough on medium-low speed for 7-8 minutes).
Lightly grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, then add the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until the dough has just slightly more than doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Brush a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet, and using your fingers, spread the dough out to the edges. Using your fingers, press the dough all over to form dimples. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over the top, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rest until the dough puffs up slightly, about 30 minutes.
Set a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F.Arrange chives as the stems of the flowers.Spread out parsley stems to look like leaves at the top of the chives.Cut cherry tomatoes in a zigzagfashion through the center, discarding seeds if possible.Cut some cherry tomatoes vertically in four segments without cutting though the base and fan open.Arrange cherry tomato pieces to look like flowers.
Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top and sprinkle with flaky salt, to taste.Bake until the focaccia is golden at the edges and browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before using an offset spatula to slide the focaccia onto a cutting board. Top with the basil, then let cool completely. Cut into pieces and serve.