Updated: Apr 12, 2021
This Focaccia Garden takes what is already a beautiful loaf of bread up 10 notches! It is so simple and can not be messed up. Clean out the fridge and get creative with your family, especially your kids!
500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting. (about 3 cups)
10g instant yeast
140ml olive oil (divided)
360ml cool water
Flakey sea salt
Any veggies from your fridge
Olive Oil to finish
1. Lightly oil a 2-3 gallon square plastic containinter. (yes use square!)
2. Place flour into a large bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yest to the other. Add 40 ml (MEASURE :) DON'T ADD THE ENTIRE AMOUNT) of the olive oil and three-quarters of the water. Begin to mix and add more water a little at a time as needed. You will want to be able to pick up all the little bits from the side. The dough is very soft - wetter than a standard bread dough!
3. When it forms a rough dough, coat the work surface with some of the remaining olive oil. and tip the dough onto the surface to knead. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. (Set you timer, its longer than you think.)Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin. This is supposed to be a wet, sticky dough, so try not to add more flour. (This is very hard to do.)
4. When your dough feels soft and elastic, put the dough into the oiled tub. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Line 1 baking sheet if making a large garden or 2 baking sheets (small or big) if making 2 smaller loaves with parchement paper and olive oil.
6. Put more olive oil on the work surface and dust with fine semolina (not required if you don't have). Carefully tip the dough onto the surface. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you keep as much air in the dough as possible. Divide the dough in half. Stretch each piece out to a flat, even piece and place on a baking tray.
7. Put each tray into a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about 1 hour. (I use 2 grocery shopping bags, one on each end of the tray.) Meanwhile heat your oven to 450 degrees.
8. Make deep dimples in the focaccia with your fingers, pushing them all the way through the dough to the bottom. Decorate your dough with all kinds of flowers and bugs. I like to fill the white spaces with white sesame seeds for texture and flavor. Get creative. When decorating has finished drizzle with olive oil and flakey sea salt. (I like Maldon.) If not decorating it as a garde, sprinkle with dried oregano as well. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through. Tap the bottom of the focaccia and you should hear a hollow sound. Trickle with more olive oil. I love to present this on a large cutting board and serve family style.