Sourdough Focaccia Art is a fun way to let your creative juices flow. The end result is a beautiful and delicious bread you can share with your family and friends. Let your imagination guide you as you design your own unique focaccia art. I’ve been making sourdough bread on a weekly basis, and today’s sourdough focaccia is another recipe that uses sourdough “discard.” I store my sourdough starter in the refrigerator, so I only need to feed my starter once a week. Although my go-to sourdough recipe is this Crusty Sourdough Bread, I am trying new sourdough bread recipes each week.
I’ve had lots of time on my hands the last couple of weeks. I haven’t gone to the supermarket in about one month, and have been trying to order groceries online. It’s gotten much more challenging to order groceries online as people try to avoid going to the supermarket, and stay at home. Fortunately, several wholesalers have started to sell retail to residences.
It’s crazy to think that I was just visiting my son who lives in California at the end of February, and that my husband and I had dinner in New York City on February 29th with three of our sons. It’s also crazy to think about one of my sons who went with his girlfriend to visit her parents and returned to our home on March 13th. Our son who came back from California developed some viral symptoms, so he self-isolated for more than two weeks, and thankfully has made a full recovery.
The blessing during this trying time is that we all have a ton of time on our hands. More time than we ever dreamed of. We often complain about not having enough time to do things we enjoy or want to try. Now, we have the time to delve into books, hobbies, learn new skills, and take on other activities that have been our wish list for years.
Bread baking is an activity that few people try, usually because of the time involved. Also, bakeries and some supermarkets carry good quality artisan bread. However, now that I spend all day in the house, there is plenty of time to perfect making artisan bread at home. I bought my sourdough starter two years ago from King Arthur, and have been using it since then. The last couple of weeks, I have given sourdough starter to at least a dozen different people in my town who want to try making sourdough bread. I love how we’ve created our own little sourdough starter community in our small town. It’s made our community even tighter.
The bread making books I have tell you to throw out the sourdough “discard.” However, I’ve either been giving it away to people who want sourdough starter, or use it in other bread recipes. Usually, I make Sourdough Discard Pizza Dough using my weekly sourdough “discard,” but this week, I tried my hand at focaccia art – sourdough focaccia and decorated the top with fresh herbs, red bell peppers, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes.
How To Make Sourdough Focaccia
You will need sourdough starter to make sourdough focaccia. I bought my initial starter from King Arthur Flour almost two years ago, and have been feeding it weekly. Each week, when I feed the sourdough starter, I use the “discard” in a bread recipe, or I give it away to someone who is interested in baking with sourdough. You will need active sourdough starter for this recipe. I took out 4 ounces of sourdough starter, and stirred in 4 ounces of room temperature water and 4 ounces of flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 bread flour).
After feeding the sourdough starter, let it sit (loosely covered) at room temperature until it has increased in volume and you see bubbles forming at the top.
After the sourdough starter is nice and bubbly, I mixed it with water. Then, I processed the focaccia dough ingredients in the food processor until combined: flour, yeast, honey, salt, olive oil. And, added the sourdough water mixture through the feed tube. Using the food processor to knead the dough saves a lot of time.
Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1 hour.
Then, fold the dough four times, turning the bowl a quarter turn each time.
After letting it rise another house, press it into a large sheet pan (13″x18″) or two 9″x13″ pans. You can also cut the recipe in half and make one 9″x13″ focaccia. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, 14-16 hours.
The next day, take the focaccia out of the refrigerator. Use your fingers to make dimples in the dough. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flakey sea salt and dried or fresh rosemary leaves.
Now, for the creative part – make focaccia art!
How To Make Focaccia Art
- Parsley, chives and oregano started growing back in my patio planters, so I have lots of herbs to play with. Use your imagination to create your own design, as well as scour your vegetable bin to see what you can use. Chives, dill, fennel fronds and scallions can be used to create a meadow or grass. Asparagus (cut lengthwise if thick) can be used as plant stalks. Sage, oregano and parsley make beautiful leaves. Onions and shallots can be used to make a sun, or the center of flowers. Red bell pepper slices can be used for flower petals. Yellow bell peppers can be used them to make a sunflower.
- You can either draw a rough sketch of your design, or just design as you go. I did a rough sketch just to remind myself which decorative herbs and vegetables I wanted to use, and for what purpose. In the end, I did a freeform design, and used my drawing as a reference.
- Add pops of color using colored bell peppers (mini peppers are cute), cherry tomatoes, red onion, shallots, cooked purple potato slices. You can dye white/yellow onion slices with turmeric and a little water.
- Lay the grassy area first, gently pressing into the dough. Then, add flowers, butterflies, sun, leaves.
- After you’re done with your design, sprinkle with dried rosemary, sesame seeds or poppy seeds to fill in any empty spaces. You can also use sliced pitted olives or capers to fill in spaces. Drizzle everything with a little extra olive oil.
- Use your imagination and have fun!
After baking, the colors fade a bit, but the herbs are nice and crispy.
Sourdough Focaccia Art
A fun creative recipe - great for kids and adults alike
Fed Sourdough Starter
- 4 ounces active sourdough starter
- 4 ounces water
- 4 ounces flour
- 1 1/2 cups Fed Sourdough Starter
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 6 cups bread flour
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- flakey sea salt
- dried or fresh rosemary leaves
Focaccia Art Toppings
- chives, scallions and/or parsley for grass and flower stems
- red, yellow, orange bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes thin strips, for flower petals
- yellow onion sliced, soaked in turmeric and a little water to make brighter sun
- red onion or shallots sliced, for center of flower
- sage and/or oregano leaves for flower petals
Fed Sourdough Starter
In a medium bowl, mix together active sourdough starter, lukewarm water and 1/2 cup flour.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature until small bubbles cover the surface.
Combine the Fed Sourdough Starter in a bowl with 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water.
Place flour, olive oil, salt, honey, and yeast in food processor bowl. Process until combined. Pour Fed Sourdough Starter mixture through feed tube and process until dough holds together, and is smooth and elastic, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl. Turn dough over, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Gently fold dough over 4 times, turning the bowl a quarter turn each time. Cover and let rise for another hour.
Oil bottom of large sheet cake pan (13"x18") with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Transfer dough to pan, and turn over to coat with oil.
Gently prod dough into the edges and corners of the pan, using your fingers. Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight, 14-16 hours.
The next day, remove the pan from the refrigerator. Use fingers to coax dough into edges and corners of pan, if needed.
Preheat oven to 425.
Use your finger to make dimples all over the dough.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over dough. Sprinkle with rosemary and flakey sea salt.
Making Focaccia Art Design
If desired, soak yellow onion in turmeric with a little water. This will make the sun a brighter yellow.
Rinse chives/scallions in water and shake off excess water. Start laying chives and/or scallions along bottom of foccacia for meadow/grass. Gently press into dough.
Lay down red onion or shallot for centers of any flowers. Lay down bell peppers for flower petals. Add stems using more chives or scallions. Use oregano, parsley, and/or sage for plant leaves.
Fill in empty spaces with additional bits and pieces of peppers, onions, and herbs.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, dried rosemary to fill in empty spaces.
Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Foccacia recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour
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