I’ve made two kinds of stuffed focaccia bread here. The image above draws inspiration from a Jamie Oliver recipe using a broad bean and parsley filling. The other kind was my attempt to recreate something I had on a rainy trip to Sicily. It was like a stuffed pie made with bread, the size of a dinner plate. I think it was focaccia but I don’t know – we were hundreds of miles south of Liguria. I stuffed the bread with mozzarella and mushrooms, as per the one I had in Syracuse but you could also use sundried tomatoes, courgette, aubergine, roasted red peppers, artichokes or pesto. ) If using veg, you can pre-roast or griddle it yourself or buy a jar of antipasti to use. (Lidl do very cheap jars!).
This quantity of dough makes two ‘bread pies’ or one larger stuffed bread. You can also split a batch of dough, using one half to make a smaller unstuffed focaccia and the other to make a stuffed bread.
500g strong bread flour
7g instant yeast (1 teaspoon plus a scant quarter teaspoon)
2 teaspoons of salt
5 tablespoons of olive oil
350ml tepid water
1 sprig of rosemary
extra olive oil and salt, to sprinkle
Broad bean stuffing:
A handful of broadbeans
A handful of peas
A handful of parsley
Lemon juice and olive oil
Salt and pepper, to season
- Put the flour, yeast, salt and oil into a bowl and combine. Add the water gradually, kneading as you go along. Add the rosemary and knead for five to ten minutes, by hand in a bowl, on a floured surface or in a food mixer using the dough hook. Don’t worry if it feels a bit on the wet side. The dough will absorb the liquid as you knead.
- Place in an oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel. Leave to rise in warm place for 90 minutes, until it has doubled in size. Pan fry your mushrooms in a bit of butter/roast or griddle your veg while the dough rises. Give the dough a quick knead – if a crust has formed on top of the dough, just knead it back into the dough.
- Divide the dough into four evenly sized balls. On an oiled baking tray, stretch the dough out with your hands to make a circle of about 8 inches.
- Arrange the veg you have chosen and half a ball of mozzarella (torn up or grated) on top of the dough to make the filling. On an oiled surface, stretch another ball of dough out to the same size and gently place it over the first. Press the edges down to seal them. Repeat if making a second one.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove for 45 minutes. Switch on your oven to 200C to heat up while the dough proves (if it hasn’t already been switched on for roasting veg).
- Once it has proved, cut two small slits on the top of each round loaf.
- Bake for 15 minutes at 200C, until golden brown. It will probably look a bit funny and puffed up when it comes out of the oven, but it will deflate and look more presentable once it cools a bit.
- For a rectangular stuffed loaf, roll the dough out to twice the size of the baking tray (a bog standard tray at 25 x 35cm). Keep the tray next to you, so you can guage the size of the dough.
- Make the filling by pulsing the ingredients in a hand blender with a glug of lemon juice and olive oil. It should be coarsely chopped, rather than a paste. Spread the filling over the half of the dough on the tray and fold the other half over the top. Press the edges gently to seal.
Like the above loaf, leave it to prove for 45 minutes, make two small incisions in the middle to let any air out. Shake up a tablespoon of oil. a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt in a jam jar and sprinkle over the dough. Add any ingredients you’d like to the top – rosemary, cherry tomatoes or olives and bake at 200C for 20 minutes. The top won’t be as uniformly smooth as an unstuffed bread but the filling more than makes up for it!