I've been enjoying bread baking lately while the weather is still cool enough. I wish my husband loved bread as much as I did. His carb of choice is rice (surprise, surprise.) One bread he's not a fan of is focaccia. He finds it too thick and doughy. In my effort to help him embrace the beauty of focaccia, I decided to tempt him with this Chicken Pesto Stuffed Focaccia. Chock full of seasoned chicken, melted cheese and flavorful pesto, he finally warmed up to it!
It's no wonder... it's just like a stuffed pizza that has filling possibilities that are endless.
The stuffed focaccia is really easy to assemble. Simply make your favorite focaccia recipe, divide it in half after it has risen and then layer it in a springform pan with your desired fillings sandwiched between them. I was inspired by a fellow blogger who made a similar stuffed focaccia with sausage and onions. Seeing an opportunity to play with different stuffings, I opted to create this one with chicken and pesto. The way I see it, any of your favorite pizza toppings will make for a delicious stuffing! So have fun experimenting and enjoy creating various stuffed focaccia.
Chicken Pesto Stuffed Focaccia
recipe inspired by The Italian Dish
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour
To make the sponge:
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and after 10 minutes, turn the oven off.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and stir in the flour.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the preheated oven.
- Allow to rise until it's doubled and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes.
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup water
3 tablespoon olive oil
Sponge, as prepared above
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour (approximately)
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
To make the dough:
- To the sponge in the bowl of your stand mixer, add the yeast, water and the olive oil. Attach the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer and lock your bowl in place. Continue to knead the dough with the dough hook and slowly add the flour and salt to the bowl. The dough should come together in a ball and then start sticking to the sides of the bowl. When this happens, slowly add additional flour by the spoonful and continue to mix. Continue to add flour if the dough begins to stick. The finished dough should not be sticky or too dry, but rather smooth, elastic and not too sticky to the touch.
- As you wait for the dough to get to the right consistency, preheat your oven to 200 degrees and after 10 minutes, turn it off.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl coated with a little olive oil. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Return the dough to the preheated oven and allow to rise until doubled, about 50 minutes. While the dough is rising, prepare the stuffing below.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon italian seasoning
2 tablespoons pesto (homemade or store-bought)
2 cups mozzarella shredded cheese
- In a skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil and heat until shimmering.
- Pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt, pepper and italian seasoning. Add the seasoned chicken to the skillet and brown until fully cooked, flipping as needed.
- Remove chicken from skillet and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled, chop into bite sized pieces and set aside.
- Once the dough has doubled, remove from the oven and punch down. Divide the dough in half.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan and place one half of the dough into the bottom of the pan. Push the dough towards the sides to create a bottom crust.
- Top the bottom crust with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese. Top with the cooled chicken and carefully spread the pesto over the chicken. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the pesto layer.
- Add the remaining dough over the stuffing and carefully push out to the edges of the pan to cover. Drizzle some olive oil over the top and dimple the dough with the tips of your fingers. Place the filled springform pan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting.