Ready to do some seasonal baking this autumn? Floral focaccia is the perfect place to start.
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As autumn approaches, many of us will be feeling the urge to spend more time in the kitchen cooking and less time ordering takeaways. Baking in the colder months can be relaxing even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, as there are so many savoury goods you can bake from scratch. This is something people discovered in lockdown, as Instagram and TikTok users became obsessed with focaccia. Particularly, floral focaccia took over social media. It’s not only beautifully decorated and very Instagram-friendly, but the perfect way to make the most of seasonal vegetables too.
Focaccia is a baked Italian bread with a similar texture to pizza and a satisfyingly salty taste. It’s often served as a starter or a side and it’s the perfect dish to make for dinner parties or an at-home date night. Creating floral designs using vegetables on your focaccia is a great way to add texture and taste to the bread and you can tailor the vegetables you choose to your tastes.
Alice Mellor started creating floral focaccia during lockdown and sharing her progress online, which led to viral TikTok and Instagram videos. She has since perfected her recipe by creating her focaccia using sourdough starter, which you can learn how to make via this tutorial.
Here, she shares her tutorial for making floral focaccia from scratch, including how to perfect your design.
What will you need to make floral focaccia
100g levain (starter fed at 100% hydration)
- 400g strong white bread flour
- 320g water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1tsp salt
- Your choice of vegetables for decoration
How to make floral focaccia
- Combine all ingredients apart from the salt and vegetables in a mixing bowl to create a dough.
- Every 30-60 mins, wet your hands and fold the dough to build structure until it gets tough and stretchy. Do this four times.
- Put the dough in your baking tray and cover it and leave it to rest for 4-5 hours or overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius.
- Fold it into the tin again and let it relax.
- When bubbles start to appear in your dough, drizzle it with olive oil and press into the dough with your fingertips.
- Pop any of the big bubbles if you’re doing a design.
- Chop all your vegetables and lay them out on your chopping board in the design you want.
- Lay it on top of the dough and press it in.
- Put a pinch of salt over the top of your dough.
- Put your dough into the oven for 30 minutes or until it looks crispy on the top and make sure it’s cooked in the middle.
- Remove your focaccia from the oven and, for best results, serve and eat on the same day.
Alice’s expert tips for making stunning floral focaccia
Avoid edible herbs
Many people use fresh herbs on their floral focaccia but Alice suggests avoiding them. “Solid vegetables work better because you need something that can withstand the heat of the oven,” she explains. “Something that has got structure and won’t disintegrate will work best.”
Some herbs will work, like rosemary, which is a traditional focaccia topping. But if you find that your floral design is burning in the oven, it’s worth experimenting with different toppings.
Practise your design before putting it onto the dough
Alice recommends laying your vegetables out on a chopping board or a clean surface in the design you want to use before putting it onto your focaccia. This will avoid making holes in the dough, which could affect the cooking process. “You might not be totally happy with your design but you can change it up next time you make your focaccia, so try not to stress about it,” she says.
Alice’s favourite vegetables to create focaccia designs with
Alice likes to stick to vegetables and herbs that might be used on traditional focaccia, like rosemary and olives, but experimenting with the way she places them. “I love using olives to create bees and rosemary as grass,” she says. “Red onion also works really well as a flower.”
If you’re looking to use seasonal vegetables on your focaccia this autumn, opt for carrot, celery, leek and onion.
You can find more expert-led guides and tutorials on The Curiosity Academy’s Instagram page.
Alice Mellor, baker
Alice has been a lifelong baker but recently set up her baking business, Baked by Alice, in summer 2021. Having fallen in love with sourdough baking in lockdown 3.0, she now bakes sourdough breads and sweet treats for local cafes and markets, alongside celebration cakes and wedding cakes for private customers.
Images: Alice Mellor