Cheese and Herb Stuffed Focaccia

So, what IS the difference between pizza and focaccia? Both are yeasted Italian flatbreads, generally cooked on the floor of a stone oven, and always adorned with toppings and/or fillings ranging from the simple (herbs, olive oil and sea salt) to the sublime (fresh garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, provolone, etc.).

There's actually a main difference, and a lesser one. These flatbreads are called focaccia in the north of Italy, and pizza in the south. In addition, focaccia is generally a bit thicker than pizza, usually carries its enhancements in the dough rather than atop it, and tends to be adorned more simply (though you couldn't prove it by the following recipe). The focaccia below is an instant sandwich — it has its fillings baked right inside.
Prep
30 mins
Bake
30 to 35 mins
Total
3 hrs 25 mins
Yield
1 focaccia, 8 servings
Cheese and Herb Stuffed Focaccia

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients, then knead — using your hands, a mixer, a food processor or a bread machine — to form a smooth dough.
  2. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until it's puffy.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured or lightly greased work surface, knead it gently, then divide it in half. Round each half into a loose ball, and allow the balls to rest, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Roll one ball into a 10" to 12" circle. Place it on a lightly oiled baking sheet or deep-dish pizza pan (or onto a peel dusted with semolina if you'll be baking the focaccia on an oven stone).
  5. Top the shaped round with the filling ingredients, spreading them evenly over the surface, and leaving about 1" crust bare around the edges.
  6. Roll the second half of dough into an equal-sized circle, then place it atop the filling. Press the edges of the dough together firmly to seal the two circles.
  7. Cover the focaccia with a damp cloth, lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover.
  8. Preheat your oven to 425°F.
  9. Allow the focaccia to rise for 45 minutes, or until it's noticeably puffy. Just before placing it in the oven, dimple it (poke gentle indentations into it) with your fingers, brush it with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle it with large-flake salt and rosemary.
  10. Bake the focaccia for 30 to 35 minutes, until it's golden brown.
  11. Remove it from the oven, and serve it warm, or at room temperature.
  12. Store, well-wrapped, for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to a month.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Other fillings we enjoy are chopped roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes, garlic and lightly sautéed spinach, or leftover grilled vegetables.