Fun Flatbread for Fall, Ya’ll

Here’s a fun family recipe for a flatbread or foccaccia to make your own. It’s an easy and creative way to cook with your kids and adults love it, too!

For me, the idea here started this summer with some Fourth of July fun, I baked up over the holiday weekend last July. An easy play on focaccia, made super simple with several cans of large refrigerated biscuits , chopped cherry tomatoes, white cheddar cheese, pitted kalamata olives , sliced mozzarella cut into stars.

Flatbreads are More Fun with Friends

Adding to the fun for me was my sweet two-year-old helper, our grandniece, Emory Parks. The idea for this holiday bread came from Emory’s “Ebby”, Debby Sacra. For years Debby and her daughter Kendel, Emory’s mom, had made a flag cake for the Fourth. An easy boxed sheet cake, frosted in white icing and decorated with blueberries and strawberries. It was cute and made for fun photo ops; but only problem was, no one really ever ate it.

This year, as we joined our extended family for the Fourth of July weekend, Debby wondered if there was a way to make the longtime family tradition of a fun edible flag, as a bread instead of a cake.

Sometimes a Shortcut is Just What You Need

It would have been great fun to bake up a batch of focaccia for the holiday, but the truth is, baking bread is a process. It’s not hard, but it does take some time. Time we didn’t want to take away from the relaxing holiday weekend, and so we found a shortcut with a couple of cans of refrigerated biscuits.

So the “recipe” here is really right on the back of the can. But instead of baking whole biscuits we quartered them for this quick and easy focaccia and then put them side by side on a parchment lined baking sheet with sides.

Next come the toppings. For the Fourth, a flag was inevitable. but you can change up the decor on your biscuit-based canvas as you would like.

Once you’ve got your design down, simply bake according to the package directions. Cool slightly. Use the parchment paper to slide your theme-party flatbread off the pan and serve.

Flatbread for the Fall Holiday Season

For football season, use a layer of minced fresh herbs or microgreens to make the background greener and then use cheese to make yard lines and you have a fresh baked football field.

For Halloween, created a pumpkin patch with grated or thin sliced sweet potatoes, crumbled bacon “dirt”. Finish with a drizzle of good and flavorful oil before it goes in the oven.

I suggest using one of two great local products I have written about here before. The first is Carolina Gold Oil Sunflower Oil ( scroll all the way to the end of this mouthwatering summer eat local post for the info on the delicious Carolina Gold Oil made from NC Sunflowers); and the second is Kores Estate EVOO ( This is my go-to EVOO. Ultra Premium, Extra Virgin and originally from Greece; but with a NC footprint. It’s also a part of another eat local post I did about this same time last year.)

Then, once the bread comes out, finish with a bit of local arugula, watercress or baby kale for the green in the pumpkin patch.

A Flatbread Flower Garden

The later this summer I played around with a version of the same using crescent roll dough. Years ago I taught a cooking class called 101 things ( almost) you can make with crescent roll dough. It’s a processed dough I don’t really use so much anymore; but when I found that the organic minded folks at Immaculate Baking Company made a crescent roll dough and refrigerated biscuits among their line up of products I felt so much better about my list of quick and easy ingredients.

The crescent roll dough flat bread was a good bit thinner than my original flag focaccia, but it was a great accompaniment to a glass of wine or two out on the deck. As you can see I added veggies, herbs and cheese; but it would be so easy to add on and kind of cured meat like ham, prosciutto, crumbled bacon. You could also add on rolled salami to make more of flower or keep it vegetarian and use sliced tempeh for the stems… the possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

Top your Flatbread with Feta and Tomatoes

If the artist in you just isn’t coming out to play, you can still make a delicious quick and easy focaccia or flatbread. You know that baked tomato and feta cheese hack that was all the rage on Tic-Tok and Instagram reels, earlier this summer? It’s really not such a new recipe – I’ve been baking tomatoes and cheese for years, but the social media reel concept, a slightly faster play speed and some funky music made it fun.

Instead, though – try my hack on hack. Grill local or organic cherry or grape tomatoes on grill grid till the tomatoes are charred and then scrape them off the grill and into a bowl. Add a drizzle ( or more if you’d like) of another great local NC product – Greek-Style feta salad dressing from Vegetable Kingdom out of Asheville, NC.

Check out my attempt at recipe reel here, fresh from my @HeidiBillotto instagram feed. Can’t really say that this John Denver song is funky, but it was a good fit and a bit more my style. Enjoy

More Flatbread Fun: this time make it a wrap

Speaking of video recipes, here’s another fun one to share. Years ago when I was writing for Charlotte Living Magazine, I did a series of cooking videos to coordinate with the magazine’s print publication. We filmed this is 2012, but this video recipe for cheesy baked hotdogs is a keeper and one kids and adults will love.

In fact, this past year, I did a more grown up version of the same thing with local pork and another of my favorite NC products, Lusty Monk mustard. You can see that recipe and a video I did for Charlotte Today with my friend, then show co-host, Beth Troutman in this fun Superbowl themed post.

For Real Homemade Focaccia

With cooler fall climes right around the corner, you really might feel more like some for real baking instead of shortcutting the process.

This recipe for my homemade focaccia is a keep and when you make it with the either of the local oils we talked about earlier in this post and some fresh rosemary, its the perfect accompaniment to any meal.

1 ½ Tbsp active dry yeast

2 tsp. sugar

5 cups  all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. coarse sea salt

 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for hands (Use Kores Estate EVOO or the Carolina Gold Oil here for the very best results)

sprigs of fresh rosemary from your garden or the farmers market

Here’s What to Do

Whisk the active dry yeast, 2 tsp. sugar, and 2½ cups lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit 5 minutes (it should foam or sort of bubble on the surface of the water. If after 5 minutes or so, nothing happens, then your yeast is dead. It’s okay, simply smile and start again.

Next, measure 5 cups all-purpose flour and 1 Tbsp. of your favorite sea salt to a large mixing bowl. Add in the foamy yeast water and mix the dough with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon by hand, or, make it easier and use the dough hook on an electric mixer. Continue to mix the dough until a sort of shaggy dough forms.

Then, pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill until dough puffs and is doubled in size. In the fridge, the rising process will take at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. Its a good method if your want to get a head start or begin a day ahead. But, if you need it faster than that, or what to bake on the same day you mix it all up, you can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours.

Rising to the Occasion

Before you bake, generously butter or oil a 13×9″ baking pan. You can also line the pan with parchment paper if you would like.

Punch the dough down, to release the air and transfer the dough to prepared pan. Poke holes all over the surface of the dough with one of your fingers. Place a small sprig of rosemary in each of the holes. Then drizzle the remaining olive or sunflower oil over the surface of the bread. Sprinkle the top of the bread with a coarse sea salt and a bit of pepper if you would like.

Again, let the dough rise, this time uncovered, in a place that is away from drafts, until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours. Don’t shortcut this rising time, its what gives your focaccia texture. Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 20-30 mins. Remove from oven, let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Use the parchment paper to help you slide the focaccia out of the pan, cut into squares and enjoy!

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