Kitaev's toric code is an exactly solvable model with Z2-topological order, which has potential applications in quantum computation and error correction. However, a direct experimental realization remains an open challenge. Here, we propose a building block for Z2 lattice gauge theories coupled to dynamical matter and demonstrate how it allows for an implementation of the toric-code ground state and its topological excitations. This is achieved by introducing separate matter excitations on individual plaquettes, whose motion induce the required plaquette terms. The proposed building block is realized in the second-order coupling regime and is well suited for implementations with superconducting qubits. Furthermore, we propose a pathway to prepare topologically nontrivial initial states during which a large gap on the order of the underlying coupling strength is present. This is verified by both analytical arguments and numerical studies. Moreover, we outline experimental signatures of the ground-state wave function and introduce a minimal braiding protocol. Detecting a π -phase shift between Ramsey fringes in this protocol reveals the anyonic excitations of the toric-code Hamiltonian in a system with only three triangular plaquettes. Our work paves the way for realizing non-Abelian anyons in analog quantum simulators.