This picture-perfect focaccia is both a beautiful bread art piece and also happens to be incredibly delicious. Made with traditional yeasted dough, it uses a bit of milk (instead of sugar) to help the yeast rise and give additional flavor. It looks like a complicated project, but actually comes together super fast. Don’t be scared by the prep time, most of the work happens while the dough is rising!
Combine 2 cups flour, yeast, dried Italian herbs, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add warm water, warm milk, and 1/4 cup oil; beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Mix in remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, switching to a wooden spoon when needed, until a soft and sticky dough is formed.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, drizzle the sides with 1 tablespoon oil, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Oil an 11x17-inch baking sheet.
Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet. Gently spread and flatten dough to fit the entire sheet. Press your fingers into the dough to make light dimples over the entire surface. Let rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Decorate dough by gently pressing down cherry tomatoes, asparagus, red peppers, bell peppers, olives, dill, sage, parsley, basil, pine nuts, and pepitas. Brush a thin layer of olive oil over the top and sprinkle with salt.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and continue to bake until golden and bread springs back when gently pressed, about 20 more minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully slip out onto a cooling rack. Cool and serve at room temperature.
Per Serving: 273 calories; protein 7.1g; carbohydrates 40.9g; fat 9g; cholesterol 1.6mg; sodium 355.2mg.
The quality of the flour could make a real difference to your bread. Different makers do vary. Extra-strong or Canadian flours, which are naturally higher in gluten, may give you a better rise than standard dough flours – especially if you’re make wholemeal bread , which not always rise as well as white bread.
To make this in a breadmaker , add all the menus to your breadmaker and follow the makers instructions.
A bread first rising can be done in the fridge overnight . This slows down the time it takes to rise to double its size, giving it a deeper flavour. It’s also a great limit , as you can work it yesterday , then clear it off the next day.