Baking bread can help to reduce stress during these uncertain times, and turning it into art is easier than you can imagine.
Gorgeous landscapes of colourful flowers and rolling hills covered in grass, trees that appear to be swaying in the wind- anything you can imagine can be created on bread, if you know how to do it.
Bread is not usually described as beautiful. Sure, it’s a thing of beauty to our taste buds, but more often than not, it’s plain on the outside and plain-ish on the inside. But lately, there’s been a trend cropping up in baking groups and Instagram pages across the ‘net that’s proved the assumption wrong. Bakers are turning foccacia into glamourous works of bread art by layering on creative ingredients.
One person who definitely knows what they are doing is an amateur chef, who runs the Instagram account Blondie and Rye and lists her name only as ‘Hannah P.’ She painstakingly crafts the intricate creations in the kitchen of her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, and they turn out magnificent.
Using vertically sliced green vegetables for stems and thin rings of capsicum for flowers, she arranges three-dimensional pictures on top of homemade dough before baking them into a crispy snack in the oven.
Others have recently started sharing their eye-catching bread treats, and each creator seems to have a unique artistic style.
Instagram user @vineyardbaker is at the heart of this trend. Her profile says she’s “putting the art in artisan breads,” and based on the gorgeous images on her page, she’s definitely succeeding.
Her breads are topped with designs that transform sliced peppers and chives into a colorful bouquet of poppies and sunflowers. They’re almost too beautiful to eat.
But don’t just take our word for it. Check out this recent focaccia she’s dubbed “Vincent Van Dough.” She says it’s a delight for the eyes and the taste buds, and we have to agree.
“Vincent Vandough “ Food art that tastes as lovely as it looks. Channeling the inner Van Gogh. Sunflowers and poppy’s create a delight to both the eyes and taste buds. Makes a great center piece for a dinner party . A moist interior crisp outer crust. Toppings include kalamata olives ,fresh herbs, sweet peppers,capers, grape tomatoes , etc. Set upon a beautiful canvas of chewy crusty focaccia bread .
Here is an easy to follow recipe for focaccia bread. You can add the veggies and herbs after the dough has proofed and rested.
You will need: 1/2 cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, finely minced, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup warm water, 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast, 1/4 teaspoon honey, 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
In a cold medium skillet, combine olive oil, minced garlic, thyme, rosemary, and the black pepper. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until aromatic, but before the garlic browns. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and honey. Stir a few times then let sit for 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup of the flour and a 1/4 cup of the infused garlic-olive oil mixture to the bowl with yeast and honey. Stir 3 to 4 times until the flour has moistened. Let sit for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of flour and the salt. When the dough comes together, transfer to a floured board and knead 10 to 15 times until smooth.
Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl, cover with a warm, damp towel and let rise for 1 hour. (It’s best to let the dough rise in a warmer area of your kitchen).
After 1 hour, heat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Oil a 9 x 13 baking sheet, or whatever size and shape you decide to make can be adjusted with a different pan. Place the dough on the baking sheet, and press down with your hand to flatten out. Start using your finger tips to create dimples and pockets in the dough.
Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes and get a bit “billowy” before pressing delicate ingredients like chive stems into the bread. Brushing the bread with olive oil adds flavor and gives the dough a glossy finishing touch, then bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
Some ideas on how to use certain herbs or vegetable to create landscapes:
Red onions – thinly sliced to look like flowers
Mini bell Peppers – sliced vertically (so they stay round) to look like small flowers or sliced horizontally (in strips) to make big sunflowers
Chives – Make great flower stems
Green Onions – Also make great flower stems or seaweed
Parsley – Perfect for leaves
Basil – Also great for leaves or seaweed
Cherry Tomatoes – Sliced in half length-wise and dried with a paper towel. Makes great flower centers or seed pods
Olives – Rocks or centers of flowers
Capers – Seed pods
Rosemary – Small plants
Thyme – Small plants
Pepperoni – We shaped ours into fish
Sausage – Flower centers or seed pods
Shredded Parmesan – Sand or dirt