Fall in love with our delicious and visually stunning fall focaccia recipe and get inspired by this fun focaccia art trend. With our easy-to-follow steps and simple ingredients, you’ll soon be creating your own focaccia masterpiece!
Fun Fall Focaccia
This fall focaccia recipe was inspired by some of the cool focaccia bread art recently seen trending on social media. Do a quick Google image search for “focaccia art” and prepare to be amazed!
For this simple take on focaccia art, we’re using colorful bell peppers and cutting them into maple leaf shapes to decorate the bread, matching our festive fall theme.
The alternating warm autumn colors of the bell peppers not only create a fun maple leaf pattern but also add a fresh, seasonal flavor to every bite. It’s a delicious and pretty treat that’s perfect for fall. Serve it as a Thanksgiving focaccia and prepare to wow all your guests!
Looking for more seasonal fall inspired recipes? Be sure to check out our flavorful Italian roasted vegetables, our spicy-sweet maple sriracha brussels sprouts, and our fall harvest chili with squash and sweet potato.
What is Focaccia Bread Art?
Focaccia bread art is the imaginative use of focaccia, a traditional Italian flatbread, as a creative canvas. This involves arranging toppings like vegetables and herbs in intricate patterns on the dough before baking. The result is a visually striking and deliciously edible work of art!
*For the full list of ingredients and quantities see the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Instant Yeast – We’re using Rapid Rise instant yeast for this recipe to cut down on the rise time.
- All-Purpose Flour (or Bread Flour) – Either flour works well for this recipe. *Scroll down further for a more in depth discussion.
- Cornmeal (optional) – The cornmeal adds a delightful crunch to the crust and a slightly nutty flavor. It not only prevents sticking but also gives your focaccia that rustic touch, providing a nice undertone that can elevate the overall taste. You can omit if you prefer.
- Italian Seasoning Blend – Or substitute dried or fresh herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – Use a high quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Fresh Garlic – The aromatic essence of garlic seeping into the focaccia adds a savory punch that complements the nuttiness perfectly. Trust me, the garlic oil is the secret sauce that will put your focaccia over the top.
- Flaky Sea Salt – I like to use Maldon gourmet sea salt for that extra finishing touch. Lately, I have been mixing it up and using some freshly grated parmesan cheese as a substitute for the flaky sea salt. Highly recommend!
- Bell Peppers – You’ll want to choose peppers in autumnal maple leaf colors like red, orange and yellow.
*Important Tip: Because you will have a good amount of leftover bell pepper after extracting the maple leaves, I would recommend having a plan to use them up after making this recipe so they don’t go to waste. We have some ideas and suggestions on this if you scroll further down below.
Make the dough
Place the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir (image 1).
Add 4 cups of the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and stir on low to combine (image 2).
Knead the focaccia dough on medium speed for 4 minutes (image 3), or knead it by hand on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. If your dough is sticky and not coming together into a ball as you knead it, add an extra 2 tablespoons of flour at a time as needed. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed until the flour is thoroughly incorporated.
Form the dough into a ball. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl; add the dough and drizzle more oil, turning to coat thoroughly in the oil to prevent it from drying out during the rise (image 4). Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Prepare the peppers
Cut each bell pepper in half vertically; remove stems and seeds (image 5). Place each bell pepper half cut side down and use a maple leaf cookie cutter (image 6) to carefully cut out the maple leaves (image 7) by pressing down firmly. *Peppers are not nicely flat objects so don’t worry if the cutouts are not perfect! You can shave and trim the undersides of any bulky seams to help the “leaves” lay flat.
Make the garlic oil
In a small pan combine ¼ cup olive oil and minced garlic (image 8). Cook over low heat stirring frequently for 2 to 3 minutes or until aromatic, but before the garlic browns. Remove from heat and set aside.
Finish and decorate the dough
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Brush a 18 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil. Punch down the dough (image 9) and transfer to the prepared sheet and roll in the oil to coat. Then using your fingertips, press the dough and shape to fit the edges of the pan (image 10). Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.
Drizzle and brush the dough generously with the remaining garlic oil (image 11). Sprinkle with the remaining Italian seasoning and the flaky sea salt (or shredded parmesan). Use your fingers to make deep dimples in the dough (image 12). Lastly evenly distribute and press the pepper “maple leaves” into the surface of the dough (image 13); making a colorful pattern (image 14). Then lightly brush a little olive oil on the tops of the peppers.
Bake the focaccia
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown on top. Once baked, remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. You can cut it into squares or slices and serve it warm or at room temperature.
- For the best results, use a scale to measure your flour accurately.
- Allow the dough to rise properly. Patience is the key to achieving that light, airy texture in your focaccia.
- Generously coat your baking sheet with the garlic olive oil before placing the dough. This creates a fantastic crust and helps prevent sticking. And also brush the top generously with the oil before baking for a beautiful golden crust.
- Consider adding freshly grated parmesan as a swap for the flaky sea salt to boost the savory, umami flavors.
- When it’s time to slice, use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter for clean edges without squishing the delicate structure.
- Present your focaccia in style with a side of herb-infused olive oil or a flavorful dip to enhance the overall dining experience (see more serving suggestions further below).
What To Do With Leftover Bell Peppers
There are loads of possibilities for using up leftover bell peppers. You could freeze them for later use in stir-fries or fajitas. If you’re into simplicity, try roasting them – the caramelized flavor is unbeatable. Sweet and sour peppers is another winner, or toss them in a refreshing salad for a burst of color.
Want a breakfast twist? Add them to an egg scramble or breakfast potatoes. Corn succotash with peppers and onions is a classic combo, and don’t forget the timeless sausage and peppers duo.
For heartier options, consider a creamy vegetable pasta, this fall harvest chili, or a comforting creamy chicken corn chowder. Feeling snacky? Dip those peppers in a garlicky herb whipped ricotta dip. And if you’re in the mood for a tasty side dish option, whip up these Italian roasted vegetables.
Ah, the flour dilemma! Let’s break it down:
Great for a softer and more tender focaccia. It has a moderate protein content, usually between 9-12%, which contributes to a lighter texture. If you prefer a focaccia that’s a bit more delicate and cake-like, all-purpose flour is your go-to.
Ideal for a chewier and more rustic focaccia. It has a higher protein content, typically around 12-14%, which gives the bread structure and a denser texture. If you’re aiming for that classic, hearty, and chewy focaccia, bread flour is the way to go.
It all comes down to protein content. Higher protein in bread flour means more gluten formation, resulting in a chewier texture. All-purpose flour, with its moderate protein, yields a softer and more tender result.
Both work, so it depends on your preference. If you want a lighter, softer focaccia, go for all-purpose flour. If you’re after a heartier, chewier texture, opt for bread flour. You can even do a 50/50 mix for a balance between tenderness and chewiness.
Why is my focaccia not fluffy?
If your focaccia isn’t achieving the desired fluffiness, focus on three key factors: first, ensure proper yeast activation by using warm water and a pinch of sugar; second, pay attention to thorough kneading for optimal gluten development; and third, allow sufficient rising time without rushing the process.
Dish Pairing Ideas
This fall-themed focaccia is a fantastic companion to a variety of dishes that capture the essence of the season. Consider pairing it with:
Soups: Whether it’s butternut squash, pumpkin, or a hearty vegetable soup, the warm and nutty notes of the focaccia will complement the comforting flavors of a fall soup.
Chili: Serve alongside a cozy bowl of fall harvest chili for all the autumn vibes.
Roasted Vegetables: A platter of roasted fall vegetables, like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and carrots, makes for a satisfying and visually appealing combination with the rustic texture of the focaccia.
Salads: Select salads featuring fall seasonal ingredients like apples, pears, or roasted nuts. The freshness and crunch of the salad provide a nice contrast to the denseness of the focaccia.
Egg Dishes: Serve it with savory egg breakfasts like meat or veggie egg scrambles or for dipping into baked egg dishes like our delightful Italian baked eggs in Marcella’s tomato sauce.
Here are some additional suggestions and ideas for serving this this simple yet elegant fall focaccia:
Bread Dipping Oil or Savory Dip: Create a dipping station with a mix of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano infused in extra virgin olive oil. Or serve the focaccia with a herby garlicky whipped ricotta dip or a savory whipped truffle burrata spread for something a bit extra.
Sandwiches: I love using focaccia to make gourmet sandwiches at home. Simply slice the focaccia horizontally and fill with some fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and fresh basil for an easy caprese-style sandwich.
Fall Charcuterie Board: For a touch of elegance, serve slices of fall focaccia alongside a seasonal fall-themed charcuterie board. Its nutty and slightly sweet vibes play so well with the rich cheeses, savory meats, and those jams that scream fall.
Thanksgiving Side Dish: As a fun Thanksgiving side dish, this fall-inspired focaccia brings a unique and inviting element to the table. Its warm, hearty profile pairs seamlessly with the traditional flavors of Thanksgiving, creating a delightful accompaniment to roasted turkey and all the other traditional fixings. And of course you will be sure to impress all your family and friends with your Thanksgiving focaccia art prowess!
More Side Dish Recipes
Fall Focaccia with Bell Pepper “Maple Leaves”
- 2 ¼ teaspoons (7 g) instant yeast
- 2 cups (470 g) lukewarm water (110° to 120°F)
- 4 cups (480 g) all-purpose flour or bread flour plus extra as needed
- ⅓ cup (40 g) cornmeal (optional, but it gives the focaccia a nice bit of texture and extra flavor)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Diamond Crystal for my recipes)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning divided (or substitute dried or fresh herbs like rosemary, oregano, and thyme)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling and greasing
- 2 small cloves fresh garlic minced
- flaky sea salt (like Maldon) for sprinkling
- 3 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan) cheese shredded, (optional)
- 6 large bell peppers 2 red, 2 orange, 2 yellow
- Place the warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir.
- Add 4 cups of the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning to the yeast mixture and stir on low to combine.
- Knead the focaccia dough on medium speed for 4 minutes, or knead it by hand on a clean, floured surface for 5 minutes. If your dough is sticky and not coming together into a ball as you knead it, add extra flour 2 tablespoons at a time as needed. Using a rubber spatula, stop and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed until the flour is thoroughly incorporated.
- Form the dough into a ball. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl; add the dough, turning to coat in oil thoroughly to prevent it from drying out during the rise. Cover with a lid, plastic wrap, or damp towel and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
- Cut each bell pepper in half vertically; remove stems and seeds. Place each bell pepper half cut side down and use the cookie cutter to carefully cut out the maple leaves by pressing down firmly. *Peppers are not nicely flat objects so don't worry if the cutouts are not perfect! You can shave and trim the undersides of any bulky seams to help the "leaves" lay flat.
- In a small pan combine ¼ cup olive oil and minced garlic. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally for 2 to 3 minutes or until aromatic, but before the garlic browns. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Brush a 18 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil. Punch down the dough and transfer to the prepared sheet and roll in the oil to coat. Then using your fingertips, press the dough and shape to fit the edges of the baking pan. Let the dough rise, uncovered, in a warm place until puffy, about 30 minutes.
- Use your fingers to make deep dimples in the dough. Then drizzle and brush generously with the remaining garlic oil. Sprinkle the remaining Italian seasoning, the flaky sea salt (or shredded parmesan). Lastly evenly distribute and firmly press the pepper "maple leaves" into the surface of the dough to make a colorful pattern. Then lightly brush a little olive oil onto the tops of the peppers.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown on top. Once baked, remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then cut it into squares or slices and serve it warm or at room temperature.
- To freeze them for later, simply place them in a single layer onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze for about an hour or until frozen. Transfer to a freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible. They should last for up to 6 months in the freezer.
- For more ideas and recipe suggestions for using up the leftover peppers, scroll up and see the related section in the post above.
- Room Temperature: Wrap any leftover sliced focaccia securely in plastic wrap and then place in an airtight container or plastic bag and store at room temperature for up to 1 to 2 days.
- Freezer: Cut into squares and put them on a baking sheet with space in between them. Put the baking sheet into the freezer for about 45 minutes. Once frozen, wrap the squares in plastic wrap or foil, put them into zip loc bags, and store them in the freezer for up to one month.
- To Reheat: From room temperature, place focaccia on a baking sheet into a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 5 to 8 minutes. Allow frozen focaccia to sit for a couple of hours a room temperature before reheating.
*Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Maplevine Kitchen makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.