Garlic Butter And Cheese Stuffed Focaccia
For the same day focaccia:
390-420 ml warm water (13-14 fl oz)
1 tsp (5g) honey (or sugar/agave)
1 Tbsp (15ml) olive oil
1.5 tsp (6g) instant yeast
500g white bread flour *This equates to approximately 3.8-4 cups if measured correctly. Fluff flour first, spoon into cup, and level off. Scales are most precise.
2 tsp (10g) fine sea salt
For the garlic butter:
2 Tbsp (30g) salted butter
2 Tbsp (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
10 cloves garlic finely minced
2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt to taste
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Mixing, Stretch + Folds and First Proofing
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the warm water, instant yeast, honey, extra virgin olive oil and fine sea salt until evenly combined. Tip your bread flour into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mix with a spoon until all dry flour patches have disappeared. Place cloth or reusable cover over top of bowl, let rest for 15 minutes at room temperature.
After 15 minutes, you will perform a stretch + fold. This helps to develop the gluten in the dough which will help with the structure of the bread. Wet your hand (this prevents dough from sticking to you), grab a handful of dough from the 12 o’clock position, pull it up slightly and then pull it all the way up and over the bulk of the dough to the 6 o’clock position. Repeat this action on all sides of the dough until it feels like you’ve created tension and you can’t stretch the dough up and over anymore…it should have tightened up into a rough ball. Let rest for 15 minutes and then repeat the stretch + fold action one more time.
After the second set of stretch and folds, wet your hands, gather your dough and place it seam side down into bowl so the top is quite smooth (this helps prevent air bubbles from escaping).
Cover the bowl and leave the dough to continue to proof in the bowl for 1.5 hours at room temperature.
Prepare the garlic butter
Heat butter and olive oil in small frying pan over med-low heat. Add in garlic and let simmer over low for 1-2 mins (be careful it doesn’t brown/burn)…add in parsley, salt (if needed). Set aside to cool slightly before adding to the focaccia dough.
Preparing Tray + Second Proofing
Prepare your 9” x 13” (22cm x 33cm) baking tray. Put a tiny bit of oil on the tray, rub it all around and then place a sheet of nonstick parchment paper on top and press down. The oil helps the parchment to stick in place. Then drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on the parchment paper and spread it evenly around the base and sides of the paper lining the tray/pan. The nonstick parchment prevents the focaccia from sticking to the tray when baking.
Using a curved dough scraper, gently release the dough from the sides of the bowl and tip the dough into your oiled and lined tray.
Stuffing and dimpling the focaccia dough
Plan to use about 2/3 of the garlic butter mixture and reserve the final third for brushing on top of the focaccia once it’s out of the oven. Use a spoon to scoop up mostly the garlic bits from the butter and spread it evenly on top of the focaccia dough in the pan. Be sure to leave some garlic pieces in the butter for later. You basically don’t want to be piling too much of the liquid on top of the dough - a little is fine but focus mostly on the garlic and parsley bits.
Sprinkle about half of the shredded mozzarella cheese on top of the garlic butter topped focaccia dough. Reserve the second half of shredded cheese for after the focaccia has par-baked a bit.
Now, you are going to oil your hands and fold one side of dough towards the middle of the blob of dough. Repeat with the other side, a bit like folding a piece of paper into thirds (it will look a bit like a burrito). Rotate the dough in the tray so the length of the dough aligns with the length of the tray and then flip the dough so the seams from the folding are at the bottom and the smooth side is at the top. The garlic and cheese should be nicely encased inside the dough.
Cover the tray of dough using another tray, inverted - this prevents the dough from drying out and forming a crust while it rises. If you don’t have another tray, a plastic storage box can work too. Do not cover the dough with plastic wrap or a tea towel, it will stick.
Proof at room temperature for 1.5 hours. Once the dough mostly fills the tray and it’s floofy and jiggly, you’ll know it’s ready.
Baking and topping the focaccia
Preheat oven to 220C/430F (non fan). If you have a pizza setting on your oven, use that as it will help to crisp the bottom of the focaccia.
Drizzle the top of the dough with a little more extra virgin olive oil and then oil your hands. Using both hands, press your fingers into the dough, gently touching the bottom of the tray. Repeat until the entire tray of dough is dimpled. You may add a little sprinkle of flaky sea salt if you wish to, but I find that the garlic butter and cheese do impart enough salt to the bread on their own.
Bake on the lowest rack in your oven (I find this helps to crisp up the bottom of the focaccia) for about 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and then sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella evenly over the parbaked bread. Return to oven for another 8-10 minutes or so or until the cheese is starting to go a nice golden brown.
Remove the focaccia from the oven and then immediately brush the remaining garlic butter over the surface of the freshly baked bread. Sprinkle on some finely grated parmesan cheese to finish.
Transfer the bread from the tray onto a cooling rack so the bottom of the bread remains crispy. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting in. Enjoy!