Stuffed Focaccia

As readers of this blog know, I really like focaccia bread. I’ve got recipes HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. The difference here is I’m using sponge to start things off.

This is a stuffed focaccia with sausage, onions and peppers plus cheese because who doesn’t like all of those things? Especially together and with a yummy bread packaging. I can totally see making this again for a Super bowl or World Cup party.

Not only does the entire house smell wonderful from the yeasty bread baking but it tastes awesome. Meaty, with gooey cheese and such a delicious focaccia. Think of this like a cheesesteak muffuletta.

It works best if you have a springform pan as the sides could blow up if left on its own and it would be hard to get out of any other kind of pan. I used a 9 inch one but, if making for a crowd, go for a slightly larger one and make this thinner to eat as a snack instead of a meal.

Plan your time as this takes three rises, not counting the sponge time. That’s once during the dough cycle on the machine, once in a warm place to double and then the final before baking.

Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Focaccia

Sponge:

½ teaspoon instant/active yeast
3/4 cup unbleached bread flour
½ cup warm water

Dough:

1 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon instant/active yeast
1 teaspoon ground rosemary
3 ¼ cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt

Meat and Cheese Stuffing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of sausage (I used German Sausage removed from their casing)
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, sliced very thin
1 bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cup Provolone (or any good melty cheese – mozzarella, monteray jack, cheddar) cheese, grated

Topping:

Coarse salt
fresh chopped rosemary
olive oil

For the Sponge: Whisk to combine yeast and flour. Add the water to and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for at least two hours and as long as overnight.

After the sponge has developed, place it in a bread machine. Add the water, olive oil, yeast, rosemary, flour and salt in the order suggested and set it for the dough cycle. Once the dough has risen in the machine, remove and place in a well-oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a towel and let sit in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

Prepare the stuffing while the dough rises, as you want it to come to room temperature before placing it in the dough.

Remove the sausage from its casing and brown with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Drain and remove from the pan. Wipe out the pan, leaving 1 tablespoon of fat. Melt the butter and sauté the onion for about 10-15 minutes or until golden. Add in the bell pepper and season with the salt and pepper and the garlic. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant and then remove from the heat. Add the onions to the sausage and set aside. Do not refrigerate.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and divide in half. Lightly grease bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with olive oil. Stretch half of the dough into a disc and place in the bottom of the pan. Press it out to the sides. Toss the sausage and onions with the cheese. Spoon the mixture into pan, leaving about a finger width border around the sides. Stretch the other piece of dough into a disc and place on top of stuffing. Cover with towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.

Just before baking, drizzle olive oil over the dough and sprinkle with coarse salt. Add a sprinkling of fresh chopped rosemary. Dimple the top of the dough with your fingers, leaving indentations.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the top is deep golden brown. To serve, slice into wedges and eat like a sandwich.

This stuffed bread is great the next day, too. Simply place leftover on a pan in the oven at 375 and bake for about 15 minutes, or until warmed through.

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