Cynthia Ferris-Bennett: Cabin fever reliever focaccia food art competition (recipe)

Focaccia dough

Focaccia dough

Anyone else just a little bit tired of the snow? We know it’s beautiful to look at but come on…  where is spring? We were wondering the same thing the other day and decided it was time for a Sierra Chef cabin fever reliever focaccia food art class.

A little nosh, a little libation, a little creativity, and a lot of fun! This is a perfect culinary activity to do with your friends or kids especially on a stormy day… and we still have a few more of those ahead of us. Create your own little piece of spring… and then… Mangia!

Focaccia dough is one of the easiest dough recipes to make and as far as the ingredients for your decoration palette… get creative. The artistic food ingredient list below is for our savory focaccia but, it doesn’t always need to be savory. If you prefer a sweet focaccia we suggest berries, orange slices, grapes, and a generous sprinkle of turbinado sugar or honey crystals.


1 1/3 cup warm water (100 degrees Fahrenheit)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (and more for the top of the focaccia)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Smoked salt, sea salt or flavored salt

Artistic food ingredients (be creative):

Red onion


Fresh herbs

Dry herbs



Cherry tomatoes



Sliced garlic

Mini peppers


Mix water, yeast, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Let sit until the mixture begins to bloom and bubble. Once your yeast mix is ready, add salt, oil, and flour, mix thoroughly, cover and set aside for 30 minutes to rise slightly. Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface.

The focaccia size is completely up to you. We typically roll our 1/2-pound balls into rectangle shapes that are approximately 1/4” – 1/2” thick. When the dough is rolled out to the desired shape and thickness then give the top a generous brush of EVOO and a sprinkle of salt.

Now is the time to get creative! If you are going to have a “leafy” element, add these items on your first layer. Press all ingredients into the dough.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cover your finished focaccia with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes. Keeping your focaccia covered for the first 15 minutes will allow the focaccia art to cook without burning. (If you do not cover the focaccia with foil during the first 15 minutes the toppings will overcook and possibly burn.) Remove from the oven and cool.

To become part of the contest, email a photo of your focaccia art and yourself to along with your name, phone number and description of your project.

We will share photos on our Sierra Chef Nevada Facebook page, and we will choose one winner (1 adult and 1 child). The lucky winners will receive gift certificates for a Sierra Chef Cooking Class. Submissions must be sent to Sierra Chef by Friday, March 31. Good luck and get creative!

Cynthia Ferris-Bennett is the owner of the Sierra Chef Culinary Center, Italian Bakery, Deli & Gourmet Market in Genoa.


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