Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Title: Beautiful Bread: Create and Bake Artful Masterpieces for Any Occasion

Author: Theresa Culletto

Publisher: Rock Point

Pages: 176

My GoodReads Rating: ⭐


I’ve wanted to bake focaccia ever since I saw pictures of this beautiful bread on Pinterest several years ago.


The author has some good advice to offer: Draw pictures of the design beforehand to ensure ease of re-creation. Keep toppings to less than half of the weight of the dough.


She also offers tips on what to look out for when buying and storing fresh ingredients and the lowdown on essential equipment. The author also helps us with information on the vegetables to use to get specific design effects. These vegetables include onions, potatoes, leeks, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.


She walks us through techniques like lattice work, braiding and stencilling, which are a treat to watch. There is a detailed glossary of essential items, especially verbs I’d never heard of, such as degassing, dimpling and docking, in the context of baking.


There are recipes for various kinds of focaccia dough, including Basic White Focaccia, Basic Whole Wheat Focaccia, Dark Multigrain Focaccia and Sweet Focaccia.


A chapter on Flowers teaches us to craft designs of flowers on the focaccia. They include Sunflowers, Wrapped Bouquet, Spring Tulips, White Irises in a Vase, Dahlias, Cherry Blossoms and Bouquet of Calla Lilies.


Another chapter, Artist Inspired, shows us designs inspired by great painters. These include Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Open Flower, Takashi Murakami’s Happy Flowers, Pablo Picasso’s Faces, Wassily Kandinsky’s Circles in Squares, Claude Monet’s Lily Pond and Alma Thomas’s Brushstrokes of Color.


Nature Inspired, another chapter, shows us designs inspired by Fall Leaves, Under the Sea, Tree of Life, Wood Grain Charcuterie Board, Sandcastle, Happy Trail Mix, Solar System and Pomegranate.


Focaccia for Holidays and Specia Occasions shows designs for Valentine’s Day Roses, St Patrick’s Day Lucky Clover, Easter Basket, Thanksgiving Cornucopia, Christmas Tree, Cinnamon Star, Game Day and Celebration Fireworks.


The chapter on Traditional Recipes shares recipes for Chocolate Hazelnut Filling, Cinnamon Filling, Sweet Lemon Cream, Evergreen Sauce, Basil Pesto, Sun-dried Tomato Pesto and Quick Pickled Vegetables.


The designs are so beautiful, they’re a work of art in themselves. It seems a shame to have to cut and eat them. Hopefully we’ll just get so good at baking these that we’ll be able to make many more and allow our own creativity to lead the way.


These are details and tips no YouTube videos would share with you. This is a book that serious and first-time bakers of focaccia will consider a treasure.  


(I read this book on NetGalley. Thank you to the author, the publisher and NetGalley.) 


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