Monday, 31 August 2009

stuffed focaccia with cheese & rocket

1. nom nom nom

I admit it. I have blogger's block. It's a little bit like writer's block, except hungrier.

Here I am, complete with photos the most delicious baked focaccia, stuffed with three varieties of cheese, sage and fresh rocket - and I'm at a total loss for anything to say about it. I mean, besides, 'it's delicious,' and, 'it's stuffed with three varieties of cheese, sage and fresh rocket'. I recognise this is rather a cop-out.

I think it's the pressure. You see, this focaccia is the most beautiful thing on earth (what? I'm not in a relationship, okay). Somehow it seems crucially important to me that you recognise the miracle of layered, homemade bread, and the pressure is so much that words have failed me.

You're just going to have to make it, I'm afraid.

2. stuffed cheese & rocket foccaccia

Now, don't be hatin', just because it's bread. I know, I know, bread. You have to pound it around, and let it rise, and keep an eye on it, and blah blah blah yeast, ugh. But trust me. Firstly, this is focaccia, which is the easiest bread around; you just have to steamroller it flat and leave it to it (Okay, 'steamroller' is not a recognised culinary term in this context, but you get the gist). And plus, it has a fancy name. We all like fancy names. Sounds better than 'sandwich bread', doesn't it?

Secondly, it honestly doesn't take that long - it's not one of your sixteen-hour shebangs - as I know for a fact, since I made this in a massive hurry (and simultaneously making a lemon & raspberry layer cake, which you've not seen as although the photos were great, I wasn't happy with the taste. Hate it when that happens) before a picnic; the half-hour rising times worked out pretty conveniently, giving me time to do such important things as brush my hair and whip up a quick swiss meringue buttercream.

Incidentally, swiss meringue buttercream? Yes it looks incredibly smooth and professional, but it tastes like bath foam. Ugh.

3. stuffed cheese & rocket foccaccia

And thirdly? Homemade bread more than makes up for a foamy cake (alright, no one else had a problem with the cake. I just really don't like SMB. I don't know what posessed me. This is where cake vanity gets you, grasshopper). Especially eaten still-warm (I said I was in a hurry) with the cheese slightly oozy, this went down a storm. So - eating it? No problem whatsoever. But writing about it?

'I don't have a damn thing to say about cheese & rocket focaccia,' I moaned on Twitter.

'I have several things to say about cheese & rocket focaccia,' my friend Sophie messaged back promptly (procrastinating uni work, I suspect), '1) OM 2) NOM 3) NOM 4) it's better than Morte d'Arthur'.

As a lit student, I feel I should disagree with the final point, but hell, cheese & rocket focaccia kicks the arse of Le Morte d'Arthur.

4. picnic

Cheese & Rocket Focaccia
adapted from 'Happy Days with the Naked Chef', by Jamie Oliver.

As the photos demonstrate, this is ideal picnic fare; how can the humble cheese sandwich possibly compete with an enormous golden sheet of still-warm bread, stuffed with a thick and melty layer of parmesan, cheddar and cheshire cheeses, drizzled with olive oil and scented with fresh sage?

Oh hey, turns out I have things to say about this focaccia after all.

By all means use cheese of your choice - Jamie used Gorgonzola but since this was for a crowd I thought I'd avoid blue cheeses, which are a matter of taste, and went for Cheshire since it has a similar texture (and it's my favourite). But mozzarella would be nice if you wanted that stringy, pizza-cheese effect, for example.

For bread:
1kg (just over 2lb) strong bread flour
625ml (just over 1 pint) tepid water
30g (1oz) fresh yeast or 3 x 7g sachets dried yeast
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
extra flour for dusting

1. Pile the flour onto a clean surface and make a large well in the centre. Pour half your water into the well, then add yeast, sugar and salt and stir with a fork.

2. Slowly but confidently, bring in the flour from the inside of the well (without breaking the walls, or else water will go everywhere). Continue until you get a stodgy, porridgey consistency, then add the remaining water. Mix until stodgy again, then you can be more aggressive, bringing in all the flour and making it less sticky. Flour your hands and pat and push the dough together with remaiing flour.

3. Knead the dough (pushing, folding, slapping, rolling, and generally being abusive) for 4-5 minutes until silky and elastic.

4. Flour the top of your dough. Put it in a bowl, cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap, Americans) and allow to prove for around half an hour until doubled in size (ideally in a warm, moist, draught-free place).

For the filling:
extra virgin olive oil
170g (6oz) parmesan cheese, grated
200g (7oz) cheddar (or other good melting cheese), grated
140g (5oz) cheshire (or cheese of your choice) grated
2 large handfuls of rocket (argula)
salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh sage (or thyme) leaves

5. Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out for 30 secs by bashing and squashing it. Roll into a large rectangle around 1 cm/ 1/2" thick. Drape half of it onto a medium-large floured baking sheet, with half hanging over the side. On the half that is on the tray, drizzle about 3 good lugs of extra virgin olive oil, rub it into the dough, then add all your cheeses, rocket and some seasoning. Using your fingers, push it all into the dough.

6. Fold the overhanging dough back on to the dough on the tray, and then push around the edges so that you seal them together, tucking it under a little so it fits nicely onto the tray. Rub the top with a little olive oil and rip over some fresh sage.

7. Heat your oven to 180C while you leave the dough to prove a second time for half an hour, and when doubled in size, bake for around 25 mins until lightly golden and cooked. Allow to sit for around 25 mins before eating, best slightly warm.

5. stuffed cheese & rocket foccaccia

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY Bestest birthday EVER!!! (Well, last year was pretty fantastic, but last year involved no yummy posh bread)
Luuurve xxxx

Sophie said...

HAHAHAAAAAAA I AM SO COOL

I GOT REFFED IN HLS <3

praps would have been even better if there was a pic of me stuffing my face with the said foccacia :)

well done dollface ^_^

Jane said...

Your focaccia looks fantastic! (And, about your cake, as I have never yet taken the plunge and made real Swiss meringue buttercream, I was very interested in hearing your opinion of it. I've always kind of wondered if it tastes sort of foamy and, thanks to your commentary, now I know that it does! :)

Grace said...

when you find that you don't have anything to say, i think it's best to state that fact in as many ways as possible. as long as pictures are involved, your reader will be happy. also, the use of the word "shebangs" scores bonus points. :)

Adam said...

I was thinking the same thing at first when I was reading "yeah it's bread, big deal", but think about it. Baked bread is like a lost art. It got buried somewhere between making ice cream without mixers and recipes that use margarine. I'd take a fresh loaf anyday over some store stuff, so just the fact that you did a hugh time consuming shebang brings super props in my book.

And then you added cheese and goodness.

You don't need to brag about bread... it's flakey great by itself.

Anonymous said...

hi there, I just found your blog and read through some of your entries - hilarious. keep on writing :D
I'm going to try out this foccacia-recipe.. in the near future (I use my family as guineapig too ;) ).
keep on blogging!
^^ [ReNi]

morgana said...

I think you don't need to write much about it, the photos are good enough to make my stomach roar at loud.

Irina@PastryPal said...

It's already in sandwich form when it comes out of the oven! How convenient.

By the way, I can't stop thinking about that chocolate cake you posted last time. It's haunting me.

ovenhaven said...

I saw this and declared loudly, "I'm making focaccia!". Then I scrolled down, and saw Nigella's oft-mentioned chocolate cake, then declared loudly, "I'm making chocolate cake!".

And then I knew there was no use of scrolling down any further, coz I'd simply be running a live commentary of 'Craving At Indigo's' of sorts.

You make everything look perfect, sweetie!

Simran said...

Hey Indigo! I landed here after many days as I thought you were studying hard and not cooking much. And there's so much delicious stuff right here.

Specially this focaccia - if it wasn't sleep time already, I'd have got the yeast going.

{kiss my spatula} said...

gorgeous lookin' focaccia!!

Caesar Stovall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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