Maybe you are yawning right now about the idea of a stuffed focaccia. Not news to me, you are probably saying. I totally understand. It is not news to me as well. But when I saw a picture of a nearly overstuffed autumnal bread I could not stop thinking about it. There were these colourful flecks of roasted tomatoes, red onions, and squash mixed together with raisins and nuts. It looked perfect. So I started thinking about new flavour combinations, adding grapes and different cheeses in my mind. And herbs. I imagined it as a little treat after a long walk outside, with the cheeks flushed in the crispy air of November. With a little salted butter on the side or a slice of a strong cheese. The best thing about focaccia and stuffed bread of any types is that you can use every flavour combination you want. You can make it sweet with raisins, nuts and honey or savoury by adding different vegetables like sun-dried tomatoes or shredded summer squash to the dough. The dough is a simple yeast dough but one can always play around with different flour types, right? It is a great way to tidy up the pantry and using little rests of nuts or even potatoes and onions. Or see it as a way to use up Thanksgiving /Christmas dinner leftovers.
I decided to go for a version with grapes, walnuts, rosemary and goat cheese. I used a mixture of spelt and all-purpose flour but feel free to use any other type.
- 350 g flour ( I used 250 g spelt flour and 100 g all-purpose flour and 50 g semolina flour)
- ½ tsp. sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 250 ml tepid water
- olive oil
- 20 g yeast
- 200 g muscat grapes
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 50 g walnuts, chopped
- 125 g vacuum-packed chestnuts, chopped
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp. icing sugar (or brown sugar)
- a bit of crumbled goat cheese
- Pour the flours into a large bowl with the sugar and salt and mix well. Disolve yeast in tepid water. In the bowl form a well in the centre and pour in the water, then mix the liquid around with your fingers, drawing flour in and gradually combining the ingredients to form a dough. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, then put back in a clean bowl, cover with a warm, damp cloth. Let the dough prove for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime cut the grapes in halve and remove any remaining pits. Transfer them in a bowl and mix with chestnuts, walnuts, icing sugar, salt, cinnamon and a glug of olive oil. Put the rosemary sprigs under hot water for a few seconds to bring up the lovely flavour. Add the chopped needles to the grapes and stir well.
- Preheat the oven to 250 C. Butter a 1kg loaf tin and line the base and sides with a sheet of baking paper, leaving a little overhang at the sides.
- When the dough has doubled in size, tip it back onto the floured work surface and knead again briefly. Add flour if it’s a little too sticky. Devide the dough into three equal pieces and roll the dough to form a rectangle the size of the loaf tin.
- Now put the first rectangle in the loaf tin and sprinkle generously with 2 tablespoons of the filling. Crumble goat cheese on top. Then cover it with another layer of dough. Crimp the edges of the dough together before adding more filling. Cover with filling and goat cheese and then cover with the last layer of dough. Sprinkle the rest of the filling (but no goat cheese) on top, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary needles.
- Bake for 15–20 minutes, then remove and place on a cooling rack. Drizzle the focaccia generously with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little more sea salt.