Layered cheesy pesto Focaccia bread
This layered focaccia is best eaten warm while the cheese is still gooey and melted, the combination of pesto, cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese make this bread very indulgent and rich, so its great served alongside lighter dishes such as salads and cold cuts.
Yield (makes): one loaf (12 people)
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 15 minutes
3 ¾ cups (360 g) Strong white bread flour
¾ cup (180 ml) warm water
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon dried yeast
¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups (150 g) Cheddar cheese (grated)
6 tablespoons basil pesto
½ cup (50 g) Parmesan cheese (grated)
1. Mix the yeast, sugar and a small amount of the warm water together in a bowl to activate the yeast.
2. Mix together the flour and salt.
3. Add the yeast mixture and then the rest of the warm water and half of the olive oil to the flour and salt mixture.
4. Mix all ingredients together until a smooth dough is formed; remove from the mixing bowl onto a floured surface.
5. Knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes until it takes on a more elastic, stretchy character.
6. Place in a floured bowl and cover with cling film, leave to prove in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 20 minutes.
7. As soon as the dough has doubled in size it is time to "knock it back", this is done by kneading the dough for another 5 minutes to remove all of the large air bubbles and evenly distribute the small air bubbles.
8. Roll out the dough into a large round circle, then in the centre of the circle spoon on the pesto and spread around leaving a 2 inch space around the pesto centre. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese onto the area spread with pesto. Then carefully bring in the edges of the dough and fold over so it covers the cheese and pesto mix in a parcel.
9. Pinch together the seam on the bottom of the bread and transfer to a lined baking tray making sure the seam is on the bottom of the loaf, the loaf should be a flat round shape.
10. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to double in size once more in a warm place.
11. Once the bread has doubled in size it can be pricked with a fork and brushed with a little olive oil.
12. Bake at 200°c/400F for 15 minutes turning the bread halfway through, to check if the bread is cooked pick it up and tap the bottom of the loaf if it makes a hollow sound its done, if the sound is more dense then the chances are it’s not fully cooked so return it to the oven for a few minutes to finish it off.
13. Once the bread is cooked remove from the oven and brush with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt to finish.
You could also top the dough with a handful of grated parmesan cheese before baking for an extra indulgent finish
As an alternative to pesto you could also layer the bread with cheese and 15 to 20 fresh sage leaves