» Advent Focaccia Bread • Cooking with Catholic Kids

Advent Focaccia Bread • Cooking with Catholic Kids

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Focaccia Bread is the perfect recipe to make with your kids for a lesson about waiting. Focaccia is a simple yeast bread that takes a little time, preparation and patience before we can enjoy the finished product. Sound a little like preparing children’s hearts and minds for Christmas Day?

by Theresa Wilson

Advent is the time of joyful anticipation and expectant waiting as we prepare to welcome the baby Jesus on Christmas morning. My kids are so excited for Christmas and asking almost daily why it isn’t here yet. I took the opportunity of their attentive anticipation to help them understand Advent in a way many little kids learn best, with their hands. Using their own hands to explore, create and learn (making little messes along the way!) allow children to discover the meaning of Advent in their own way. 

Advent Focaccia Bread was the perfect recipe to make together for a lesson about waiting. Focaccia is a yeast bread and although it requires simple ingredients to make, it takes time, preparation and patience before we can enjoy the finished product. Sound a little like preparing children’s hearts and minds for Christmas Day?

For the bread, first you have to wait for the yeast to bloom, then you watch with anticipation and excitement as the dough grows and grows to twice its size. This all before you then have to push it down, prepare it in a pan and let it grow, or proof, again before finally baking.

That’s a little like the way we need to prepare for Jesus’ birthday: prepare, wait, prepare, wait. God gives us all the simple tools (or ingredients) we need to grow in our desire to know him, but it takes time and patience. But the journey, just like baking, can be shared joyfully together as a family.

Print Recipe
Advent Focaccia Bread • Cooking with Catholic Kids
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Breads, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Breads, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Warm the milk to about 110 degrees. It should feel just warm to the touch. Stir in the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes to bloom.
  2. Combine the flour, salt and honey on the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and mix on low speed.
  3. Add the yeast and milk mixture. As the dough starts to come together, add eggs and then slowly pour 1/4 cup of olive oil and let mix until the dough becomes smooth, elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Place the dough in a very well oiled bowl and cover with a lightly dampened towel. Set the bowl in a warm and draft-free area to allow the dough to double in size, about two hours.
  5. Once the dough has risen, gently push it down.
  6. Generously oil a half-sheet tray and spread the dough out into it, keeping it about 1-inch thick.
  7. Again cover the dough with a slightly damp cloth and let rise again in a warm and draft-free spot for about one hour.
  8. Gently press finger tips into the top of the dough and evenly cover it with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil.
  9. Uniformly sprinkle the top with the shredded parmesan and rosemary.
  10. Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown, approximately 20 minutes.

Of course you can eat this wonderful bread as is, but my little chefs like to “decorate” the focaccia before digging it. This time we topped it with roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions, but tomato sauce and cheese, artichokes and olives, spinach and ricotta are other options.

Just as you prepare and decorate your home and heart as you wait for the birth of Our Lord, you can decorate the focaccia with as much or as little as you like. Perhaps try some purple decorations to acknowledge the color of Advent, like purple eggplant, red onions and purple cauliflower. Figs and purple-toned fruits like blueberries would also make for delicious, sweeter toppings that pair well with goat cheese or feta. 

Dear God, please help us to wait with patient hands and prayerful hearts as we joyfully anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Follow Theresa Wilson:
Theresa Wilson is an alumnus of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York. After pursuing her passion for all things food, she quickly rose the ranks in fine dining cuisine as a professional chef, and as a chef instructor and assistant director at a culinary institute. She is now a busy stay-at-home mom and short order cook to her amazing, energetic young daughter and son.

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