Recipe: How to make focaccia gardens
Get green-fingered in the kitchen making the latest lockdown food trend: focaccia gardens
Ideal for those who can’t decide whether to upskill in the kitchen or busy themselves in the garden (or indeed, for those who don’t have a garden), the trend involves making homemade focaccia bread and decorating it – with vegetables – to take the form of your very own garden.
As mindful as it is creative and productive (once cooked, that’s dinner sorted), making focaccia gardens is also a great activity to do with the kids – playfully introducing them to the world of cooking, while providing them with a healthy alternative to pizza.
The semi-cooked bread forms your blank canvas, on which your personal garden will bloom in a medley of your chosen ingredients. Be as creative as you like with your toppings, but be cautious about adding vegetables that may take longer to cook (such as aubergines or broccoli). In our experience, thinly sliced mushrooms, pitted and halved black olives, and finely chopped red onions work well to form the earth of the garden, while spring onions provide decent plant stalks, chopped cherry tomatoes and peppers their flowers, and fresh basil their leaves. You could also be adventurous and add edible petals.
Follow the focaccia recipe below, courtesy of Jamie Oliver, then add your chosen toppings to let your edible garden blossom.
For the focaccia base…
400g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
100g fine ground semolina flour or strong white bread flour
½ tbsp sea salt
1 sachet dried yeast
½ tbsp golden caster sugar
300ml lukewarm water
Extra-virgin olive oil to finish
Your choice of vegetables and edible flowers. We’ve found half a small red onion (sliced), a handful of mushrooms (thinly sliced), half a red pepper (chopped), half a yellow pepper (chopped), a handful of cherry tomatoes (halved), three spring onions, a handful of black olives (pitted and halved), and a handful of shredded basil leaves all work well.
- Place the flours and salt into a large bowl, and make a well in the middle. Add the yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, and mix with a fork. Leave this for a few minutes and, when it starts to foam, slowly pour it into the well, mixing with a fork as you go.
- As soon as all the ingredients come together, which may take a minute or so, knead vigorously for around 5 minutes until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
- Lightly oil a large bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to the bowl. Dust with a little extra flour, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and prepare the toppings.
- To cook the focaccia, as soon as the dough has risen, pound it, then place on a baking tray and spread it out to cover the tray. Push down roughly on top of the dough like a piano to make lots of rough dips and wells.
- Decorate your focaccia garden with your chosen ingredients
- Leave to prove for a further 20 minutes, then bake for 20 minutes, until golden on top and soft in the middle