When I am in Umbria, I typically make focaccia at least once a week. I usually share some with our farmhouse guests, and my husband likes to snack on it throughout the day as he does his daily chores. I also like to cut a couple of larger squares that I freeze for the future to use to create a panini whenever I crave one. For some reason, when I return to North America I get out of the habit of making focaccia, and I realized recently that I hadn’t made any type of bread since I left Italy in October. Obviously, I need to get back in the kitchen and start baking! Instead of making my usual basic focaccia last week, I decided to create a stuffed focaccia, usually a ham and cheese filling. I combined ricotta cheese along with some grated mozzarella and pecorino and added in some cooked ham. The finished dish reminded me of a Pizza Ripiena or Torta Pasqualina, a cheesy pie made every year for Easter. This recipe can be easily adapted depending on your personal tastes, and you could change the type of cheese, or use salami or spicy soppressata in place of the ham. You could also include some cooked greens such as Swiss chard or spinach, but just make sure that the greens are squeezed dry before you add them to the filling.
This stuffed focaccia is an easy recipe to make, just make sure you roll out your dough on a floured surface to prevent sticking and be careful to seal the edges well as described so that the filling doesn’t ooze out. I froze half my focaccia because there are just two of us home to eat it, and I just reheat the focaccia after thawing wrapped in foil in a preheated 350 degree F. oven. Although this focaccia is tasty served at room temperature, we enjoyed it better after it sat in the refrigerator overnight.
Deborah Mele 2017
Cheese And Ham Stuffed Focaccia
- 5 Cups All-purpose Unbleached Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Instant Yeast
- 2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Cups Warm Water
- 2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
- 1 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups Finely Diced Cooked Ham
- 1 Teaspoon Coarsely Grated Black Pepper
- Focaccia Topping:
- 1 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coarse Sea Salt
- Measure and assemble your flour, oil, salt, yeast, and water, and add everything but the water into a large bowl and stir.
- Add half the water and stir, and then continue to add water until the dough begins to come together into a shaggy ball.
- Dump the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead with the heels of your hand.
- Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliant.
- Add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to the bottom of a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside.
- Roll the ball around in the oil, ensuring the sides of the bowl, and ball of dough are both lightly oiled.
- Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise.
- Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about an hour or an hour and a half depending on ambient temperature.
- To make a large rectangular focaccia, line a 13 X 9 inch baking sheet with sides with parchment paper, then generously brush with oil.
- Dump your risen dough into the pan punching it down to deflate it.
- Divide your dough into two equal pieces and shape into balls.
- Roll one ball into a rectangle about 13 x 9 inches in size and carefully place it into the prepared pan.
- Mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl, then spoon onto the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around.
- Roll out the second ball of dough to the same size, then place it on top of the filling.
- Carefully stretch the edges of the bottom dough up over the top, twisting gently to seal.
- Brush the top of the focaccia with olive oil, then sprinkle the oregano and salt over the top.
- Let the focaccia rest for another 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and cool to room temperature before slicing.