Christmas Focaccia

Dec 14, 2023

It’s no secret that I’m a huge bread lover and would much rather gorge on savory bread than any sweets out there.

This Christmas I’m making an Italian-inspired feast instead of the traditional Norwegian fare I normally cook up, much because this holiday feels like it needs something different. In that spirit, I’ve been browsing through Italian cookbooks, magazines and blogs for inspiration. Focaccia keeps popping up everywhere I look so was inspired to get in the kitchen to experiment with a few ideas.

Focaccia is actually a really popular bread to make in Norway. My sister often makes it when I go home to visit and I’m always reminded at how satisfying and comforting this bread is.

The best way to make focaccia is to let the dough rest overnight before baking it. As the professional bakers say, time is an ingredient too when making bread.

But… if, during the busy holiday preparation times, you don’t have time to wait for hours on end, rest assured that the recipe I’m sharing with you today will be delicious and fulfill your craving for a juicy, flavorful bread.

I like to use a combination of bread flour and 00 flour in the dough, but you can substitute with regular all-purpose flour if you don’t have either of those two flours on hand.

Make sure that the dough is not too dry when you leave it to rest- the key to a juicy focaccia is enough liquid.

To put a holiday spin on it, I decorated the bread with rosemary and cherry tomatoes in the shape of a Christmas tree, making it look extra festive. You can play around with decorations or leave it plain too – serve it with a flavorful, hot bowl of soup or pasta and a nice glass of Italian red wine.

Now you’re ready to ring in the holidays!

Christmas Tree Focaccia

For the focaccia:
2 cups (5 dl) lukewarm water
1 packet (7 grams) instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups (250 grams) bread flour
2 cups (250 grams) 00 flour
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
6-7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For Christmas tree garnish:
3-5 rosemary sprigs (or as many as needed)
8-10 cherry tomatoes (or as many as needed)

Add the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or regular bowl, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to get bubbly.

In a separate bowl add the flours and sea salt and whisk to combine.

Fitted with a dough hook, start the stand mixer and slowly, add in the flour. Knead until a dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and clean out the bowl, then grease it with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Place the dough back into the bowl and coat with the oil, cover tightly and let rest for about 2 hours.

After the dough has doubled in size, grease a cast iron skillet or 9 x 13 inch sheet tray with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and tilt the dough onto the skillet or tray and pat it evenly across the surface. Cover again and let rest for another 1-2 hours.

About ½ hour before you bake the focaccia, place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425°F (210°C) . Pour two tablespoons of oil over the dough. Rub the oil evenly over the dough and, using all of your fingers, press down to create deep dimples. If necessary, stretch the dough as you dimple to allow the dough to fill the pan. Decorate with rosemary sprigs and cherry tomatoes to create a Christmas tree. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt all over.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the underside is golden and crisp. Remove the pans or pan from the oven and transfer the focaccia to a cooling rack. Let it cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


Note:
Make sure to use quality extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe, it will make a world of difference in the flavor!

Equally important is the flaky sea salt used as topping before it goes in the oven.

You can use other vegetables to create the look of a Christmas tree, like zucchini, bell peppers or green beans and multi-colored cherry tomatoes.

Print

Christmas Focaccia

This juicy and fluffy focaccia gets a holiday spin on it when decorated with rosemary and cherry tomatoes in the shape of a Christmas tree! Serve with a hot bowl of soup or pasta and your favorite glass of Italian red wine and this is comfort food at its best!

  • Author: Sunny Gandara
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Category: Breads
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

For the focaccia:
2 cups (5 dl) lukewarm water
1 packet (7 grams) instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups (250 grams) bread flour
2 cups (250 grams) 00 flour
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
6-7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For Christmas tree garnish:
3-5 rosemary sprigs (or as many as needed)
8-10 cherry tomatoes (or as many as needed)

Instructions

Add the water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or regular bowl, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to get bubbly.

In a separate bowl add the flours and sea salt and whisk to combine. 

Fitted with a dough hook, start the stand mixer and slowly, add in the flour. Knead until a dough forms.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and clean out the bowl, then grease it with a tablespoon of olive oil. 

Place the dough back into the bowl and coat with the oil, cover tightly and let rest for about 2 hours. 

After the dough has doubled in size, grease a cast iron skillet or 9 x 13 inch sheet tray with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and tilt the dough onto the skillet or tray and pat it evenly across the surface. Cover again and let rest for another 1-2 hours. 

About ½ hour before you bake the focaccia, place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425°F (210°C). Pour two tablespoons of oil over the dough.  Rub the oil evenly over the dough and, using all of your fingers, press down to create deep dimples. If necessary, stretch the dough as you dimple to allow the dough to fill the pan. Decorate with rosemary sprigs and cherry tomatoes to create a Christmas tree. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt all over.

Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the underside is golden and crisp. Remove the pans or pan from the oven and transfer the focaccia to a cooling rack. Let it cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Notes

Make sure to use quality extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe, it will make a world of difference in the flavor!

Equally important is the flaky sea salt used as topping before it goes in the oven. 

You can use other vegetables to create the look of a Christmas tree, like zucchini, bell peppers or green beans and multi-colored cherry tomatoes. 

 

Keywords: focaccia

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