Last month I attended a decorative focaccia bread making class at LaBelle Winery in Amherst, NH. This was my first bread making experience. I couldn’t have imagined that I would enjoy this new art as much as I did. I had previously taken a pasta making class there, and quickly learned that pasta making was much more difficult than I had anticipated. I knew I would need a second class or help to make quality pasta on my own. This class proved to be different. It was easy. It was creative, and the bread was delicious! It seemed like something I could do at home by myself, so I tried it! I’ve made this recipe twice at home since the class and both times the bread has come out well. I loved this recipe so much, I felt compelled to share this idea with all of you.
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp honey
1/4oz packet active dry yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried basil
½ tsp salt
1 dash ground black pepper
1 cup warm water (105 -115 F)
3 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
Various sliced vegetables and herbs (for decoration)
Instructions: Mix the yeast, water and honey in a small bowl. Let proof for 10 minutes, until bubbles begin to form. In a large bowl, stir together flour and all dry spices. Add yeast mix and olive oil to the dry mix and combine. When dough has pulled together, turn out into a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl and turn to fully coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place for 25 minutes. Preheat oven to 425 F. Punch dough down, then place on greased baking sheet. Using your knuckle, make indentations in the dough about ½ inch apart. Then prick the dough with a fork. Brush the top of dough with olive oil, then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Add various vegetables and herbs for decoration. Bake 13 -15 minutes, until golden brown.
Each time I make this bread my skills improve. I also get more creative with my decorating. You can search the internet for ideas. Just type “decorative focaccia images” in your search, and endless arts of work emerge. Most are more elaborate than what I have created so far, but I hope to keep improving with each attempt.
This is a fun dish to serve at holiday gatherings or simply enjoy yourself before meals with the family. I found that dipping the bread in olive oil enhances the flavor of the herbs used in the recipe.
I love having the whole house fill up with the warm, yeasty smell of baking bread. There is something about it that turns bread eating into a culinary experience. Also, knowing that you made it yourself, is most satisfying. I hope that anyone that enjoys baking will give this recipe a try and enjoy the experience as much as I have.