As home quarantine continues for millions of Americans, bakers are making focaccia gardens to help pass the time -- and the eye-catching loafs might be the best thing since sliced bread.
Home bakers are loading their focaccia spreads with herbs, spices, vegetables and more, carefully placing each topping to create a tasty-looking garden landscape. From yellow-pepper sunflowers to bushes made of fresh herbs, focaccia gardens are bringing extra color to dinner tables across the globe, and lighting up social media along the way.
Teri Culetto is the culinarian at the heart of the trend. The self-proclaimed Vineyard Baker of Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, has been creating art with focaccia bread as her canvas for over a year now. The idea first struck her after a fateful visit to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts in January 2019.
"I went to see to see Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' painting and couldn't get it out of my head," Culetto explained. "I was feeling inspired artistically, but don't really paint, so I thought I'd get baking and try to recreate the painting with vegetables and see what happens."
The mother of four was pleasantly surprised to find the grain as a perfect vehicle for her design.
"When it finished I thought, 'Wow, these colors really work on bread,'" Culetto said. "It was amazing how the browns, yellows and everything worked together."
Culetto, 56, shared her creation with a few friends and aspiring chefs in the neighborhood who encouraged her to share the tasteful loafs on social media. She uploaded a few pictures to Instagram and shared her recipe dubbed "Vincent Van Dough", along with a few tips on best baking practices: pre-ferment the dough for more body and structure, make sure your bread is rising when applying vegetables and take your time to bring out all the flavor.
Not long after, bakers from far and wide flocked to her page, hoping to find inspiration.
The focaccia focused baker slowly saw more and more interest in her edible arrangements, but the buzz picked up noticeably in mid-March as coronavirus-related shutdowns began to keep more and more people at home.
"It's been overwhelming, you'll bring me to tears because there has been such an outpouring of interest in the last few weeks," Culetto said. "It's a really sweet thing and I think it's a bit of what we all need right now. I know we're all eventually going to get out of our houses, but I hope people won't leave their bread projects behind. Don't forget about the bread!"
Culetto added she hopes to move from focaccia to sourdough soon, a grain she's noticed many of her followers struggle with.