Burchfield Inspired Focaccia Garden Bread

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Right now, baking bread has been the king of social media during this quarantine-lockdown. For me, it was these pictures of beautifully decorated focaccia, dotted with vegetables that got my attention.

I am new to baking, so when baking this bread, it was my first time. I was nervous to start because when I cook, I am one of those people who doesn’t follow a recipe or when I do I change it and say, “it needs a dash of this, and a pinch or that…” So, this wasn’t just a boredom buster, but I can say it definitely taught me patience.

The new trend I was finding on social media, mostly Instagram, were these really cute breads that people were calling “garden focaccia”. My immediate thought was, I can make that, but make it Burchfield. I don’t know what possessed me to think I could bake, having never attempt it before, but the thought of creating a ‘painting’ just like Burchfield’s with vegetables got me really excited.

My bread landscape is based after Charles Burchfield's, Butterfly and Poppies (1950-66). I chose this painting for its vibrant use of color and the unique shapes that the flowers and trees take in the foreground and background.

Here is the recipe I used, the vegetables I chose and why. If this is your first time baking with yeast, this is the easiest recipe to follow. If I can do it, you can do it!



  • 1 1/3 cup warm water (about 100°F)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
  • 2.25 tsp active-dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 tps sea salt plus extra for sprinkling


  1. Proof the yeast. Add warm water (about 100°F, I didn’t have a thermometer, but if you do have one it is very helpful) and sugar to a small/medium bowl and stir to combine.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water.  Give the yeast a quick stir to mix it in with the water.  Then let it sit for 5-10 minute until the yeast is foamy. Once the yeast is foamy transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Knead the dough. Gradually stir in the flour, olive oil and salt until a shaggy dough begins to form.  Then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes until smooth, adding extra flour if the dough feels too sticky. 
  3. First dough rise. Shape dough into a ball.  Grease the mixing bowl (or a seperate bowl) with olive oil or cooking spray, then place the dough ball back in the bowl and cover it with a damp towel.  Place in a warm location (I preheated my oven for 2 min. then turned it off) and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes, or until it has nearly doubled in size.
  4. Second dough rise. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out into a large circle or rectangle until that the dough is about 1/2-inch thick.  Cover the dough again with the damp towel, and let the dough continue to rise for another 20 minutes.
  5.  Prepare the dough. Preheat oven to 400°F. Transfer the dough to a large parchment-covered baking sheet (or press it into a 9 x 13 baking pan). Use your fingers to poke deep dents (seriously, poke all the way down to the baking sheet!) all over the surface of the dough.  Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil evenly all over the top of the dough.
  6. Decorate. Now it’s time to create your garden.
      • Tomatoes, peppers, and onions are all really great vegetables to use because they are bigger and won’t crisp up as quick as some herbs or leafy greens.
      • For my garden, I used green onion and cilantro for the trees in the background. Yellow and orange sweet peppers for the tree in the middle ground, along with a few sprigs of rosemary and sage. I dotted the middle ground with more yellow peppers and seasoning: lemon sage, garlic. The foreground is consisted of tomatoes, spinach, green onion, and a yellow sweet pepper, filled with mushrooms for the butterfly wings.
      • Leafy greens will dry out or burn, while peppers, and tomatoes won’t crisp up because of their water content, but in the oven too long they will eventually burn. 
Art Center Educator, Michaela Worosz

7. Bake. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is slightly golden and cooked through.

8. Serve. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired. Slice, and serve warm.