Breadwinners - A Focaccia Breadscape!

Focaccia Pizza Bread Homemade

Want to make a focaccia that will knock their socks off? At the very base, this is an easy, light focaccia to make. On top the vegetable "breadscape" is surprisingly easy although it looks difficult. Let your imagination go wild with the simplest of ingredients to create this colourful vegetable landscape painting!

I was going to make a plain focaccia for the Asylum Seeker's Resource Centre lunch this month. I weighed up all my supplies and although this uses 500g of flour (a precious commodity nowadays) it would be worth it given how many people it would feed.

It came to that afternoon when I was going to make it. I've been steadily working while this COVID-19 craziness has been going on but truthfully I've been distracted. If I don't check my phone every 10 minutes or so I feel twitchy like I am going to miss something.

Focaccia Pizza Bread Homemade

I looked down at my focaccia, lovely in its simplicity-flour, water, salt, yeast and olive oil and then I looked at the supplies in my vegetable crisper. I had seen Blondie and Rye's spectacular breads on Instagram and decided that I wanted to do something special. The best part is that this floral breadscape decoration only took another 10 minutes!

Dear Reader, I promise that forming the colourful breadscape is surprisingly easy. I made flowers growing out of the ground and grass using spring onions and coriander. The flowers were made of halved cherry tomatoes and mini capsicums and red onion made for beautiful butterflies. I also just added slices of mini capsicums, onion and tomato just because and sprinkled sesame seeds on top safe in the knowledge that everything on top was as tasty as it was pretty.

Can I use a sourdough starter instead of yeast? Yes! Sourdough starter is ideal for this slow rise focaccia as it can take longer than instant dried yeast to rise. Please use 50g/1.7ozs during summer and 100g/3.5ozs during winter (the dough needs a bit more of a boost during cooler weather).

Other options and tips for making your own breadscape: Use pitted olives as flower petals, purple potatoes also make lovely flower petals. Make use of herbs, spinach, white and black sesame seeds or pepitas. I strongly recommend using red and spring onions for flavour but also they taste fantastic. Cheese also works really well on top of the bread. The brighter and more varied your colour palette, the better!

Quite honestly I didn't know how it would bake up but I was so jubilant when it came out of the oven. Even Mr NQN who isn't effusive or given to compliments loved it. The focaccia was spongey and light and the whole thing was fun to make and only took 10 minutes to pretty up. And everyone deserves something pretty nowadays.

Focaccia Pizza Bread Homemade
Light, airy bread

Because times have changed, I didn't serve it up to everyone the next day like we usually do as it was a bit of a risk for everyone. I drove over to the centre and dropped it off in the lobby and left. I hope they liked the vegetable breadscape and that it may have brightened one person's day.

So tell me Dear Reader, how do you pass the time nowadays? Are you addicted to checking the news? What brings you joy?

Focaccia Pizza Bread

Did you make this recipe? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 20 minutes plus 1 hour resting

Cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 500g/1.1lbs. plain flour
  • 500ml/16.9flozs. lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast OR 50-100g (1.7-3.5ozs) sourdough starter (see note below)
  • 150ml/5flozs. extra virgin olive oil, divided in half

  • Spring onions

  • Red and orange cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Red onion, sliced
  • Mini capsicums, sliced
  • Coriander or parsley
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

If you are using a sourdough starter, please use 50g/1.7ozs during summer and 100g/3.5ozs during winter

Step 1 - Line a large, deepish (at least an inch deep) 30x40cm or 12x16inch tray with parchment. Dissolve the salt in water. Mix the salt water with the flour in a bowl and add the yeast and stir to mix. Knead with a dough hook for 5 minutes. It will be a very wet dough.

Focaccia Pizza Bread Homemade
Focaccia dough brushed with oil

Step 2 - Pour half of the olive oil onto the base of the prepared tin and spread to the sides with a brush. Pour the bread dough over the oil in the tray and spread to the sides with a spatula. Brush with remaining oil. Cover with another larger tray and then a cloth. Allow to rise in a warm area for 1 hour.

Step 3 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Make a landscape pattern with the spring onions, coriander, capsicums, onions and tomatoes. You can use the spring onions as flower stems, the coriander as plants and the tomatoes and capsicums as flowers. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

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