Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stuffed Focaccia

I made this recipe quite a while ago, when the book Secrets from the Best Chefs was making the rounds in the Cook My Book group. I took photos and then I devoured it.

I planned on blogging about it, but then I got distracted and didn't get around to it.

I'm not obligated to blog about any of the books from Cook My Book, but it's really handy for me to have the recipes on my blog where I can find them again. I have notes jotted down, but if my notes can sometimes be cryptic.

It's best if I get things typed out before I forget what my obvious-at-the-time scribbling really mean.

I've created my own focaccia recipes before, but what I liked about this one was the technique of making two dough layers and stuffing the center with cheese and other goodies.

And I thought it was interesting that the baking started with the pan covered. I don't think I've made many recipes that use that technique.

The original recipe calls for basil leaves, but I happened to have a pesto hanging around so I used that instead - and it happens that pesto was suggested as an alternative by the author, so it's not like it was a huge stretch.

I also cut the recipe in half, and below is the halved version. So feel free to double it and bake it on a half-sheet pan. I had some extra olives, so I used a bit more than the recipe called for, but the amount below is the "correct" amount. If you love olives, add more.

This recipe is rather appropriate for the approaching Halloween season, inadvertently. You see, those kalamata olives peeking out looked like ... well .... sort of like spooky eyes. You can take that idea and run with it, if you decide to make it.

Stuffed Focaccia
Adapted from Secrets of the Best Chefs by Adam Roberts

For the dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For assembly:
Olive oil for the pan, as needed
1 tablespoon cornmeal
2 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves (I used pesto and eyeballed the amount)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar, and water, while you gather the rest of the ingredients. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add the flour and salt. Knead with the dough hool until the dough peels away from the sides of the bowl.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about an hour.

Flour your work surface and knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball, then divide the dough in half. Allow it to rest for 15 minute to relax.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 1/4-sheet baking pan with a drizzle of olive oil, then sprinkle with the cornmeal.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to fit the pan, Place it in the pan and press or stretch it to fit, if needed.

Layer the dough with the mozzarella, parmesan and most of the olives, reserving about 1/4 of them for topping the dough. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired. Since I knew that the olives and cheese were both salty, I didn't add more.

Roll the second piece of dough the same way you rolled the first one, and place it on top of the filling. Gently press the edges together. You don't have to pinch to seal them completely.

Brush the top with olive oil, the place the reserved olives on top of the dough and push them down about 1/2 inch to embed them in the dough.

Cover the dough with foil and bake for 1/2 hour, then remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes or so, until the crust is golden. Mine wasn't browning as much as I liked, so I cranked the heat to 350 to finish cooking.

Drizzle with more oil, if desired, and allow to cool for 20 minutes before removing it from the pan and slicing to serve.