Stuffed Focaccia.

A lot like pizza dough this bread is wonderful alone as a snack or great as a side dish to accompany an array of meals. I haven’t made it for about 3 years, I used to serve it with tapas accompanied with a handful of dips and other bits and bobs to nibble at. Today I made it with a twist, I read a book the other day in which the chef made a stuffed version of the bread which I found exciting so I opted to fill mine with cheese. It was fantastic, it was just like a giant grilled cheese flavored with garlic, rosemary and olive oil, delicious.

Stuffed Focaccia, yields 10 portions, cook time 25 minutes, prep time 1 hour (mostly for proving) Ingredients:

  • 500g strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
  • 300ml lukewarm water
  • 7g dried yeast
  • olive oil to drizzle
  • 4 slices cheese, I like gouda for this
  • 200g grated parmesan
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary cut into pieces to stud the bread
  • 30g breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to season

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Begin by putting the flour into a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and making a well in the center, mix the yeast and lukewarm water together and allow to sit for a couple of minutes. Now pour the yeast and water into the flour and begin to incorporate the flour into the liquid from the edges of the well. Once a dough starts to form you can begin to knead it on a floured work surface, knead for around 10 minutes until nice and springy. Now let the dough prove in a warm place covered with a damp cloth for an hour or until doubled in size. Once proved you can begin to stretch out the dough to double the size of your baking tray which should be 60cm by 80cm, punch it up a little while you’re at it, its fun.

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Grease your baking tin with a little olive oil and scatter over the breadcrumbs then maneuver your dough into it. You should have a large overlap hanging out of the tray, that’s what you’re looking for. Put your slices of cheese on the dough, sprinkle over the parmesan, drizzle with olive oil then season with salt and pepper.

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Now with the overlap simply fold it over the cheese and seal it in all around the edges using your fingers. Crush your garlic and scatter over the dough then stud it with the sprigs of rosemary, now dimple the dough with your fingers to make little pockets for oil to gather, (this helps keep the bread moist). Cover with your wet cloth and allow to prove once again until double in size whilst your oven pre-heats to 220 degrees Celsius. With your dough proved season it, drizzle with oil and fire it in the oven for around 20 minutes or until golden and cooked thoroughly.

Once cooked cut it with a bread knife into 10 rectangular portions ready to serve, you can freeze them individually if you like as they defrost well to toast. I like to serve mine with sun dried tomatoes, pesto, balsamic syrup and mozzarella. A lovely bread indeed, give it a try.

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