The following excerpt and recipe is from professional baker and bread artist Theresa Culletto's new cookbook "Beautiful Bread." In it, she shares how to master focaccia and turn any bread into a beautiful work of art. 

I live in New England. Autumn is always a favorite time of year, as the leaves change colors. Those who make the journey to see the leaves are affectionately called “leaf peepers.” This focaccia would be a lovely snack on any leaf-peeping adventure.

Note: this recipe uses Theresa Culletto's basic white focaccia recipe, linked here. 

Fall Leaves Focaccia

  • Prep Time:3 hrs
  • Cook Time:25 mins
  • Total Time:3 hrs 25 mins
  • Servings:1
  • Easy


  • 1 recipe for Basic White Focaccia
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive or neutral oil divided
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Bowl ice water
  • 12 chives
  • 2 sprigs parsley
  • 2 red mini sweet peppers
  • 2 yellow mini sweet peppers
  • 2 orange mini sweet peppers
  • Flour for dusting
  • Finishing salt to taste optional
  • Special Tools
  • Leaf-shaped cookie cutters
Photo by Jocelyn Filley
  • Step 1

    Thirty minutes prior to baking, move the oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 450°F, allowing time for the oven to come to full temperature. Prepare the basic white focaccia dough according to the recipe instructions to its second rise.

  • Step 2

    Prepare two pieces of parchment about the size of your intended focaccia and lay them on two 18 x 13-inch baking sheets. Coat the parchment on one of the baking sheets with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the lemon juice to the bowl of ice water to keep the greens bright. Trim the chives and place them in the ice water with the parsley. Trim the tops of the mini peppers. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pith, then cut each pepper half lengthwise. Mince each pepper half and place in separate piles by color on the unoiled baking sheet. Remove the greens from the ice water and dry them well before placing on the baking sheet.

  • Step 3

    Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut off one-third of the dough and set aside. Place the larger piece of dough on the oiled baking sheet and shape while dimpling it into a 10 x 6-inch rectangle. This is your base dough. Coat the dough with 1 teaspoon of the oil and set aside.

  • Step 4

    Using a rolling pin, roll out the smaller piece of dough to the same size as the larger piece. Move the dough to a piece of parchment paper and dust the surface with flour. Use the cookie cutters to randomly cut out leaf shapes all over the surface of the dough and carefully remove the cutout shapes. Aim for around 8 to 10 cutouts across the surface. This is your top dough. Carefully flip the parchment paper with the top dough on onto the base dough.

  • Step 5

    Gently press to adhere and adjust so that the dough corners match up. Fill each leaf cutout with minced peppers. Mix up some of the colors to create multicolored leaves too. Once all the leaf cutouts are filled, pull off the smaller sprigs of parsley from the larger sprigs and scatter around the cutouts to complete the design. Coat the top of the focaccia with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Place the chives around the design.

  • Step 6

    Allow the dough to rise, covered, in a warm, draft-free place for another 15 minutes. You will need to dock this dough to be sure no irregular puffing up happens during the bake. Survey the surface and deflate any large air bubbles with a toothpick or skewer, leaving smaller ones intact. Be sure to poke all the way down, remembering that this focaccia is in 2 layers.

  • Step 7

    Just before placing your focaccia in the oven, check the decorations to be sure they are all snug. Secure any that look to be popping off, using a chopstick, skewer, or your fingers. Add finishing salt (if using) and place the focaccia on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 8 minutes at 450°F. Reduce the heat to 375°F and check the decorations again. If any are popping off, coerce them back into the dough by gently and carefully poking down. You don’t want to burn yourself. Bake for 10 to 16 more minutes, until the focaccia is golden brown and crisp on the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.