A Fun Weekend Baking Project for Focaccia Fans (& Little Hands)

I didn't think I could love focaccia more...until I started baking it with my kid.

February  7, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

There are a million ways to use a bottle of olive oil. In partnership with Filippo Berio, we're sharing one of our favorites: a kid-friendly focaccia baking project!

Growing up in a Korean household, we didn’t go out to eat all that often; but when we did, it was a true treat hitting up a Greek-owned diner or an Italian-American red sauce joint. At either place, I knew I’d hit the jackpot the minute a basket of warm bread hit the table. Whether it was chubby dinner rolls with individual butter packets hiding beneath, or semolina bread accompanied by small bowls of extra-virgin olive oil with a Rorschach-style blot of balsamic vinegar swirled in (the height of sophistication in my adolescent mind), I was all in.

One of my absolute favorite bread basket all-stars, of course, is focaccia. If I see the telltale holey structure and shiny-with-oil, crusty exterior, game’s over, folks. I’m diving in, and you’d better be quick nabbing your piece because I can’t guarantee there will be any left for me to share.

When I was old enough to cook for myself, and realized how easy and satisfying it was to make my own, it opened up a new world. My whole meal can be a focaccia-filled bread basket, and no one will judge. Rejoice!

And, unsurprisingly, my own daughter loves to make and eat focaccia as much as I do. Like pizza, it's endlessly riffable, suiting the whims of even the pickiest of palates. Kids love having full control of what additional ingredients to top them with (if they want any at all, that is); but there’s great solace in knowing that leaving it plain―with a healthy dose of olive oil and a generous smattering of coarse salt―will also (and always) be a deliciously smart decision.

Have we talked about the fun factor yet? Because, oh yes, focaccia is FUN to make. Is there any other dough that invites you to poke and prod with as much gusto? (If you happened to catch Samin Nosrat’s Italy episode on Netflix’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, you’ll know what I mean.) Kids are super tactile creatures, and focaccia couldn’t be a more inviting way for them to exercise their fine motor skills.

My daughter loves “helping” me in the kitchen when she can, but at five, that list of duties can still be quite limited. Mixing the ingredients for a relatively forgiving recipe, and then getting her hands in there makes her feel great (drizzling even more olive oil and adding even more flaky salt onto the dough is her favorite part). Honestly, watching her eyes grow in awe after witnessing a dough’s rise and subsequent fall is enough of a reason for me to make focaccia with kids. (Don’t worry too much about the mess; you can take care of that later!)

Photo by Rocky Luten

Because of the blank slate nature of focaccia, you'd be hard-pressed to find a "bad" flavor combination. If pressed, I'd probably go with a plain one with lots of olive oil and extra salt, but I would never say no to one studded with cherry tomatoes, or one with thinly sliced citrus and olives. As for my daughter, she'll go for anything salty or vaguely resembling a pizza (think: a layer of tomato sauce with hand-torn mozzarella pieces and basil).

Here are some killer flavor combos that will appeal to adults and kids alike:

  • Taleggio + Mushroom + Speck + Thyme
  • Meyer Lemon + Green Olives + Rosemary (pictured above!)
  • Cured Olives + Red Onion
  • Prosciutto + Arugula
  • Apple + Cinnamon + Sugar
  • Ricotta + Honey (mild or hot)

If you’re looking for a fun baking activity for these dark, wintry days―either solo or with a little partner―try this focaccia. It is simultaneous deeply satisfying and supremely easy, the perfect combination of a low-commitment, high-yield weekend kitchen project. It is, in all honesty, the best form of self-care I can give myself.

Are you a focaccia fan? Share your favorite flavor combinations with us below!

In partnership with Filippo Berio, we're highlighting simple ways to take your favorite dishes to a whole new level of delicious. In this kid-friendly focaccia project, experiment with different flavor combinations—from sweet-tart Meyer lemon and olives to creamy ricotta and honey—to find your new favorite. And for the finishing touch, don't forget a drizzle or two of Filippo Berio olive oil.

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.

1 Comment

Cay February 7, 2019
l love a version of focaccia that I get from a bakery in San Francisco... studded with golden raisins, a bit of rosemary and coarse salt. There's something so perfe the combo of flavors & textures. Now I'm inspired to try my hand at making my own version!