This bread is both beautiful and tasty.
- 4 cups flour
- ⅓ cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for greasing
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 package dried yeast
- Variety of colorful vegetables
Proof the yeast. Add lukewarm water (about 110 F) and honey to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, and stir to combine, using a nonmetal spoon or your finger. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Give the yeast a quick stir to mix it in with the water. Then let it sit for five to 10 minutes until the yeast is activated and foamy.
Knead. Set the mixer to low speed and gradually add flour, olive oil and salt. Increase speed to medium-low and continue mixing the dough for five minutes or until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
First rise. Remove dough from the mixing bowl and use your hands to shape it into a ball. Grease the mixing bowl with a touch of olive oil, then place the dough ball back in the bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Place in a warm location and let the dough rise for 45 minutes, or until it has nearly doubled in size.
Prep veggies. While the dough is rising, prep your vegetables. Make sure you wash each veggie and cut into thin slices - strips and rounds - so that the vegetables are varied shapes and sizes for most colorful garden focaccia results.
Second dough rise + decoration. Once dough rises for the first time, punch down and then put your dough onto an olive oil-greased standard baking sheet (13- by 9-inch) and press the dough down so it covers the baking sheet and is about ½ inch tall. Preheat oven to 400 F. Now start decorating your blank canvas focaccia, imagining your favorite garden. Create shapes using the vegetables that mimic flowers. Try using peppers as flower heads, asparagus as stems, parsley as leaves and rosemary as grass. Remember that the dough grows and the veggies shrink, so for bright and best results, cover the dough completely with various vegetable flowers. Sprinkle either coarse or fine sea salt over the top of the dough before placing in the oven.
Bake. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the dough is slightly golden and cooked through.
Serve. Like most baked goods, this focaccia is best served straight from the oven. You also can let it cool completely and wrap in tin foil and store in fridge for up to one week or freezer for up to one month.
Note: Pairs well with soup.