Firstly, a confession. This focaccia bread is not authentic. Not at all.
There are many recipes out there featuring authentic focaccia but this isn’t one of them. In fact, this version is nothing like how it should be. Authentic focaccia bread isn’t round and it certainly isn’t meant to have pillowy soft dough like this one does.
However, I don’t care much for following the rules. If we all followed the rules of baking, we would never create new recipes. However, I do care that people might think this is what you’d find on a traditional Italian table because it isn’t.
So, you may be asking, why bother calling it focaccia bread at all? Well, because I pushed my thumb in to make the classic focaccia indentations, that’s why. Sounds like a fair reason to me.
While I am on with confessing, I have another admission. I don’t know anything about Monterey Jack. Other than it is delicious, that is. Mind you, what cheese isn’t? When Googling to find out more, it appears that it varies a bit – some are lighter in colour, whereas others are more orange. Some have peppers or chillies (Monterey Pepper Jack) like the one I used in this recipe.
I picked up some in our local Lidl when it was Mexican week and it is so incredibly spicy and flavourful with a semi-hard consistency. I thought it’s amazing spicy bite would go so well with soft, doughy bread. I was right. Success!
This focaccia bread recipe is made in a bread machine, but I am sure it can be adapted to make by hand (I just haven’t tried it personally). It makes an amazing side dish for pasta, barbecues and salads.
My whole family loved it – it was light, doughy, cheesy and spicy all in one mouthful. I used a fairly small skillet but it was more than enough to feed a family of four (even when those four snaffled it down like there was no tomorrow).
Monterey Pepper Jack Spelt Focaccia Bread (with Tomatoes and Rosemary)
40g (around ½ cup) Monteray Pepper Jack cheese (chopped into small pieces)
20g (1½ tablespoons) butter
400g (4 cups) spelt flour
7g dried yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Around 100g Monteray Pepper Jack
Two baby/cherry tomatoes
Swig of olive oil
Sprinkling of rosemary
Sea salt (to preference)
Please note: this recipe is for a bread machine. I am pretty sure it would work just as well by hand, although I haven’t tried it myself!
~ Add the milk, egg, cheese and butter to your bread machine tin. Then throw in the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, oregano and garlic powder, taking care to keep the yeast and salt separate as much as possible. Set your machine to make dough.
~ When the dough is ready, knead quickly until a rough ball forms. Grease a small skillet pan with olive oil and place the dough inside. Using your fingers, press and manipulate the dough until it has been smoothed out and covers the whole skillet. A good dough will fight you tooth and nail every inch of the way, so if it refuses to cooperate, it’s a great sign. I recommend doing the above, leaving for five minutes, then come back and repeat.
~ When the dough is ready, heat the oven to 220 (430). Take your dough and using your thumb, press indentations all over the top and place tiny bits of cheese and tomato in them. Again, a good dough will bounce back quickly, so just make sure everything is pushed into the bread (if your thumb is sticking, use a little flour on it to make the job easier). Cover with a tea towel and let the dough rest for a further 15 minutes or so.
~ Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over the rosemary and sea salt. Bake in the middle of the oven for around 15-18 minutes. It will be ready when the top is very firm and nice and golden.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Eat warm or cold with your favourite pasta dish or with a barbecue.