There’s nothing like a warm, fresh slice of focaccia dipped in tomato soup on a chilly evening. While most of us wouldn’t necessarily think of this specialty as a fall staple, I love it in the cooler months. It pairs beautifully with just about any herb or vegetable, and it’s one of the easier breads to make. Bonus: In this Halloween focaccia recipe, I used baking powder instead of yeast, so I didn’t have to wait for the dough to rise.
Of course, traditionalists will argue that a true focaccia needs yeast, be it instant or active. Yeast certainly would give this recipe a stretchy, bread-y texture — but if you can get away with baking powder, why not use it? I found it just as delicious as its traditional counterpart, and it had fewer steps. That gave me extra time to work on my focaccia’s edible Halloween decorations.
I’ll be honest; the Halloween decorations took the most time, but they were also the most fun. I decided to make this a group project, so my family and I created two different loafs: A basil, chive, and olive bat-themed focaccia, and a roasted pepper and garlic “pumpkin” focaccia. Not only did they look cute and enticing, but we fought each other for the last slice. (Those crunchy edges are the best.)
My Experience Making Halloween Focaccia Bread
The easiest part of this recipe was whipping up a dough (inspired by JustaTaste.com), which consists of eight ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder, olive oil, milk, and water. While the pepper and garlic powder are technically optional, I felt that they greatly enhanced the dough and complimented the toppings I chose.
The hardest part of the olive focaccia recipe was creating bats out of olives. At first, I thought making cats would be easier — but I quickly realized that round olive slices don’t look like cats, even when you use chives for whiskers. I switched to bats, and then had to come up with a technique for creating wings. Here’s what worked (if you want to re-create this yourself):
- To make the face: Slice 5 to 6 olives into pennies. Place the pennies, spaced out, on top of the focaccia dough.
- To make the wings: Slice 5 to 6 more olives lengthwise. (Each olive half will become one bat wing.) On each olive half, slice a little off the top (to make an even thinner olive half), then cut three triangles out of one edge. Place each bat wing on either side of the pennies on the focaccia dough.
- To make the bat ears: Collect the triangles you cut out of the “bat wings.” Place two triangles on either side of each olive penny, where ears would go.
- To fill in the center (optional): Mash the remaining olive with a spoon into a paste. Spoon tiny amounts of olive paste into penny centers.
The roasted red pepper focaccia was easier, but still required a decent amount of time. Using a blender to mix the red peppers and garlic helped cut down on prep and cook time, and made for a beautiful paste to go on top of the focaccia. Since we were making this into a pumpkin, I created two extra large indents for eyes in the dough.
I was worried that the pepper paste would weigh down the dough so it couldn’t rise, but since I spread it in a thin-enough layer, it wasn’t an issue. It almost looked like I was making a savory cake.
It was finally time to put my doughs in the oven, and to make sure that they each baked correctly, I put them in one at a time. The olive focaccia came out looking a little pale, so I brushed it with some leftover pepper paste and juice in the pan. Also, the bats ended up looking a little disconnected (the olive pieces shrunk in the oven!), but they still looked cute.
I let my family decorate the roasted pepper “pumpkin” focaccia when it came out, and they truly outdid themselves. They used leftovers from our garden to decorate — including chopped chives for a mouth, oregano sprigs that had flowered for eyelashes, and edible nasturtium flowers for eyes and a nose.
We still haven’t cut into the pumpkin because we think she’s so adorable — but the olive focaccia was a hit. If you’re ready to make your own Halloween-themed breads, I highly recommend using the veggies and herbs you already have. Get creative, and have fun baking with your loved ones.
How To Make Halloween Focaccia Bread
- (plus more for greasing pan)
- (plus more for kneading dough)
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 c. water
- (whole milk preferred, any is fine)
- 2 orange bell peppers, large
- 2 garlic cloves
- 5 -6 chive sprigs
- 5 -6 basil leaves, chopped
- 6 -8 chive sprigs, chopped
- 10 -12 olives, black
Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease 8 or 9-inch baking pan with olive oil. (Option to use round pan for roasted pepper focaccia.)
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper.
Add water, milk, 2 tablespoons olive oil. (If making olive focaccia, add chopped basil and chive.) Using a spatula or fork, mix until just combined.
Flour your work surface. Turn out dough.
Knead dough, 1 minute. Dough should be tacky and slightly sticky. Add more flour if too sticky.
Grease hands with olive oil. Transfer dough to greased baking pan. Press dough into even layer. Make indentations across dough, pushing down to the bottom. Drizzle on olive oil, spread out with hands or brush.
For roasted pepper focaccia: Set pan on stovetop to low-medium heat. Purée bell peppers and garlic in blender. Add to pan with olive oil. Cook until reduced. Pour over dough in round pan. Cover dough evenly with puree using a spatula. Bake 20 min.
For olive focaccia: Decorate with sliced olive bat shapes. Bake 16-20 min.