FOCACCIA DI RECCO
WITH ONE OF OUR LIGURIAN FEASTS
Liguria has two dishes which have conquered the world: basil pesto, and focaccia – the billowing soft tray-baked bread. What I didn’t know is that there is a delicious aberration of focaccia – focaccia di Recco – which dates back at least to the 3rd crusade. It is recorded that Ligurian crusaders were fed on a flat bread of soft fresh cheese on the Pentecost of roses, 1189, on their way to have their way with the Holy land.
This cheese focaccia is almost nothing like focaccia as we know it. It’s very naughty, and very nice – paper-thin, flaky unleavened dough filled with hot melted cheese. Liguria got to the stuffed crust almost a thousand years before Pizza Hut. It is an IGP product (i.e. the name is restricted to cheesy focaccia cooked in and around Recco) – but you can follow the recipe at home for a reliable source of melting cheesy crispy goodness.
Your kit makes 1 large tray – 20x30cm or so – and contains:
- A dough made with strong organic flour, salt & oil
- Stracchino cheese
- A little fine olive oil
- Use half the oil to grease a large shallow baking tray
- Preheat the oven to 250C, (fan on if you have one)
- Divide the dough into two equal parts
- Roll one, on a floured surface, until large enough to fill your tray and overhang the ends – this is very thin, and will require some tenacity to convince the dough to permit such extension. It is not only acceptable but recommended, to finally stretch it by hand.
- Lay/stretch the dough sheet in the greased tray, overhanging the edges by 1-2cm
- Dot small (teaspoon-sized) pieces of stracchino cheese all over the dough sheet – its gooey, easiest to use your fingers
- Roll the second sheet just the same, and lay it over, overhanging
- Ruche the overhanging edges of the dough into the sides of the pan, to closely close them
- Brush the remaining 20ml olive oil over the top
- Make 10-12 small slits in the top sheet of dough, and open them a bit with your fingers, to let steam escape and a little cheese bubble through here and there
- Sprinkle lightly with salt
- Bake 20 minutes (top shelf), until the cheesy bread is well browned on its upper and lower surfaces
- Eat piping hot from the oven, cut in its baking tray into squares
- It is almost guaranteed to not have leftovers. In the unlikely event, they can be reheated, again in a blisteringly hot oven, and are almost as good.