Have you seen those beautifully decorated breads on social media and wondered how to make them? Well now you can, thanks to the new book Beautiful Bread. Creatively delicious, there are designs for every season and holiday. And for the sports fans out there, you can celebrate game day, too! This is what the author has to say about this design:

This focaccia is not only great for serving at a party for the big game, but it can be altered to fit a number of sporting events. Change up the ball for a wonderful sport-themed birthday bread.

Makes 1 loaf of focaccia


  • 1 recipe for Basic White Focaccia or Whole Wheat Focaccia
  • 1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive or neutral oil, divided
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper
  • 1 small orange bell pepper
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 large leek (10 to 11 inches long)
  • 1 large white carrot, peeled
  • 1 large purple carrot, peeled
  • 1 whole medium roasted red bell pepper
  • 2 pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 2 pitted black olives
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame or poppy seeds
  • ½ cup (100 grams) basil pesto
  • Finishing salt, to taste (optional)


Prepare the Dough

1. Prepare the dough according to the recipe instructions to the point of its second rise.

2. Cut off a golf ball–size piece of dough. Dust a work surface with the dark cocoa powder. Roll and knead the small portion of dough in the cocoa powder until the dough is dark brown and the cocoa powder is incorporated.

3. Let both doughs proof, covered, as directed.

Prepare the Vegetables

1. 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 sheets with 1 tablespoon of the oil.

2. Prep the peppers and red onion for cutting out shapes.

3. Make a shallow, lengthwise slit down one side of the leek, then peel off and discard the outer layer. Carefully separate out a few layers and wash under cold running water to remove dirt and sand.

4. Use the circle cookie cutter to make about 50 circles from the peppers, onion, and green part of the leek for the spectators.

5. Separate out some white layers from the leek and cut them into 3 strips that are 10 inches long and ¼ inch wide for the lines on the football field.

6. Cut number shapes from the white carrot to indicate yard lines. Also cut small thin strips from the carrot for laces for the football. Use a julienne peeler to cut the purple carrot into thin strips for bleacher dividers.

7. Cut the roasted red pepper into two 4-inch-long and two 3-inch-long strips, all ½ inch wide, for the goal post.

8. Pat the green and black olives dry. Slice the olives into about 10 thin rounds crosswise.

9. Move all the vegetables to the unoiled baking sheet, keeping things separate and organized by color and sizes for ease of use during the decorating process. Place the seeds on the baking sheet too.

Preheat the Oven

1. Thirty minutes prior to baking, move the oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C; gas mark 8), allowing time for the oven to come to full temperature.

Shape and Decorate the Dough

1. On the oiled baking sheet, shape your uncolored dough while dimpling it into a rectangular dough “canvas,” about 16 x 11 inches. Shape the smaller, dark piece of dough into a football shape. Coat both doughs with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, leaving the area where the basil pesto will be spread uncoated.

2. Spread the basil pesto over the bottom half of the dough. Sprinkle a 2-inch-wide line of black sesame seeds just above the pesto.

3. Create a stadium background on the top half of the dough by placing the purple carrot strips as bleacher dividers. Lay them 1 inch apart horizontally. As you place each strip, “lock” it in place by pushing it down into the dough with a chopstick. To set the strip in place, use the back end of the chopstick to push it down into the dough deeply, at the top and bottom and a few spots in between.

4. Place a variety of colored circles among the bleacher dividers to represent the fans.

5. Lay the white strips of leek horizontally across the pesto for the lines on the football

field, 1 ½ to 2 inches apart. Place the carrot numbers along the left side of the football field.

6. Pat the roasted red pepper strips dry, then form them into a goal post in the middle of the dough.

7. Place the dough football on the goal post and lay the white carrot strips on top of the football for the laces.

8. Once you have finished decorating, survey the surface and deflate any large air bubbles with a toothpick or skewer, leaving smaller ones intact (docking). Using piano-style finger motions, gently dimple the dough again. Ultimately, you want to see an uneven bubbly texture, about 1 ½ to 2 inches thick in various spots. If the focaccia is flat, allow it to rest for 8 to 10 minutes in a warm, draft-free place.

Bake the Bread

1. 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 the chopstick, a skewer, or your fingers.

2. Add finishing salt (if using) and place the focaccia on the middle rack of the oven.

3. Bake for 8 minutes at 450°F (230°C; gas mark 8). Reduce the heat to 375°F (190°C; gas mark 5) 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.

4. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.


Soccer: To create a soccer ball, slice a 3-inch ring from the center of a red onion, removing the interior portion of the ring. Lay the ring on the dough and sprinkle the interior lightly with 1 teaspoon of poppy or black sesame seeds. Cut hexagon shapes from the flesh of a zucchini or white carrot and place them in the onion on top of the seeds to fill in the ball. Use a julienne

cutter to cut carrot strips to create a lattice for the goal netting.

Baseball: Make a baseball bat from a yellow squash and a baseball from a roasted red pepper that has been frayed on either side. Place the baseball in a ¼-inch-thick onion ring. Place the home plate at the bottom of the focaccia made from the white part of a leek or a zucchini cut into ½-inch-thick slices.

Hockey: Make a hockey stick out of zucchini and a puck from a black olive. Use a julienne cutter to cut carrot strips to create a lattice for the goal netting.

Excerpted from Beautiful Bread: Create & Bake Artful Masterpieces for Any Occasion by Theresa Culletto. Copyright 2023. Published with permission from Rock Point.


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