If You Love Gardening, You Should Try Baking Botanical Focaccia

After seeing this beautiful garden-inspired bread all over her Instagram feed, Diane Morrisey had to try it herself. Now her family can't get enough.

Cherry tomato flowers, Italian parsley petals, bell pepper butterflies, chive bouquet stems, green bean grass. No, this isn’t some kind of weird Willy Wonka botanical wonderland. These are just a few of the eye-appealing elements Instagrammer Diane Morrisey uses to fashion lovely landscapes on focaccia!

Bread baking is all the rage these days, especially given our stay-safe-at-home climate. And Diane isn’t surprised. “Mixing and kneading can be very relaxing,” she says. “Plus, there’s something so satisfying about slicing into a fresh-baked loaf that you made with your own hands to nurture and comfort your family.”

The Bread Art Trend

Many bakers and gardeners across the country are kicking it up a notch by turning basic bread into awesome works of botanical bread art. Like them, Diane is combining her cooking and artistic abilities to make mouth-watering masterpieces using produce, herbs and other edible ingredients.

“I have always appreciated pretty things and was an art major in college,” she tells Taste of Home. “Using food to create beauty is very natural to me.” So it was a stroke of genius that she turned to focaccia as a culinary canvas.

Although the beautiful nature-inspired breads may look too pretty to eat, Diane doesn’t cringe at the first cut. “Food is meant to be eaten, shared and enjoyed,” she says. But, her husband and six children have learned to pick up the knife only after she’s had a chance to take pictures!

focaccia side by sidecourtesy Diane Morrisey

Decorating Ideas for Botanical Focaccia

You don’t need to be the next Monet to let your own creative juices flow. Start with Diane’s favorite focaccia recipe below. Head to your pantry, fridge and vegetable garden for inspiration, looking for splendor in simple ingredients. Then, unleash your inner artist!

Look for design ideas online and sketch something out on a piece of paper. Or just start placing items on the dough and see where your imagination takes you.

Chives or herb sprigs make gorgeous stems,” Diane says. “Sliced radishes, red onion or bell peppers with chopped black olives become beautiful flowers, while scallions transform into a field of grass.” Check out more edible flowers that you can include in your bread.

To ensure that the toppings adhere during baking, slightly press them into the dough. A drizzle of olive oil also helps secure the ingredients and lends a lovely sheen.

Although Diane’s family rarely leaves a focaccia crumb uneaten, bread can be frozen. So bake a few batches now to share with friends and family in the future. To freeze for up to 6 months, let cool and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Then wrap in foil or freezer paper. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

quilted focacciacourtesy Diane Morrisey

How to Make Diane’s Focaccia Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. 00 flour
  • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. and 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Toppings of your choice

Editor’s tip: If you can’t find 00 flour (a superfine Italian flour), you can substitute all-purpose flour.

Instructions

Step 1: Combine ingredients and knead

In a mixing bowl, combine flours and salt. In a small mixing bowl, stir together a little less than 1 cup lukewarm tap water, yeast and olive oil; pour it into flour mixture. Knead with your hands until combined, approximately 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes. Knead rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place on floured surface, cover with dampened cloth, and let rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature.

Step 2: Decorate and drizzle with olive oil

Coat a pan with olive oil and spread dough evenly. Dock (or poke) the dough well with your fingertips. Decorate however you want, making sure that you press the ingredients into the dough to slightly adhere them. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Step 3: Bake!

Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool on a wire rack; then ooh, aah and devour.

Originally Published on Taste of Home

Julie Schnittka
Julie Schnittka is a Senior Editor of Taste of Home’s special issue newsstand publications and loves cooking for family and friends. She has a passion for trying new recipes, as evidenced by her bulging files of recipe printouts that she intends to get through one day.