What’s that you say? Focaccia di Recco al formaggio – or in English, cheese focaccia of Recco. This delicious Italian snack is gooey cheese tucked between paper-thin layers of flatbread and it’s irresistible.
I mean, melted cheese-stuffed bread. Need I say more? If you’re here, I’m guessing you love cheese and bread as much as I do. The cheese is lovely and creamy, rich but mild all at once. The dough itself is yeast-free so it’s very easy to make and very forgiving.
It’s wonderful for entertaining and, luckily the recipe makes two and you can make it ahead of time because these will disappear quickly.
For those interested, you’ll find the full story of how I discovered focaccia di recco right under the recipe card below – stored there so that I can never forget that wonderful memory.
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What is focaccia di recco
If you’ve never seen it before, this probably doesn’t look like the focaccia you know. Very different from the fluffy yeasted bread we all know well, focaccia di recco is less like bread and more like pizza. Sounds great right?!!
This Italian snack and much-loved street food takes it’s name from it’s city of origin – the Ligurian city of Recco in Italy. Directly translated;
- “focaccia” = flatbread
- “di recco” = of Recco
- “al formaggio” = with cheese
Filled with a cheese called stracchino crescenza (don’t worry, I have substitution options), the thin bread is baked at a very high temperature so that it becomes crisp and golden whilst the cheese inside gets nice and gooey.
Why not have a Mediterranean feast and include this baked feta and tomatoes.
Tools you’ll need
Ingredients for focaccia di Recco
Just 5 ingredients and one of them is water. With so few ingredients, do make sure to use the best quality you can afford to get the very best flavour.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Bread flour: Stick to bread flour for this recipe. While you could get away with plain / all-purpose, bread flour has a higher protein content making it easier to stretch and roll out thin without breaking.
- Water: Just still water – tap or filtered is up to you.
- Oil: Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil.
- Salt: I like a finely ground sea salt for this as it has a lovely flavour and the city where this originates is right on the ocean so it seems fitting to do it right.
- Cheese: The traditional cheese for focaccia di recco is crescenza . More about the cheese below.
Which cheese to use
Traditionally a cheese called stracchino (also known as crescenza) is used for focaccia di recco. Stracchino cheese is an Italian cows-milk cheese which has a soft, creamy texture and a mild flavour.
I found stracchino at a store that specialises in unique ingredients (Fresh Provisions for readers in Perth) and it may not be readily available everywhere.
Good substitutions for stracchino in this recipe are brie, camembert or taleggio but remove the rind.
I have also made this using a combination of fontina and brie which gave a great combination of cheesy flavour and creamy, gooey texture.
How to make it
While the steps are simple, this is a type of bread so can take a little time. It’s fun though, I promise and you’ll love the result. I actually can make these pretty quickly now and the main time is taken up in rolling the dough out paper thin and tearing apart the cheese, so nothing difficult at all.
Detailed instructions in the recipe card below.
- Make the dough: Mix together the dough ingredients in a medium mixing bowl (photo 1) with a spoon. Turn the dough out and knead it (photo 2) until you have a smooth ball (photo 3). Feel free to use a stand-mixer for this to make it a little quicker. Let it rest before rolling.
- Roll the dough: Cut the rested dough into 4 pieces and roll the first one out to a very large circle (photo 4) until paper thin. You can use your hands to stretch it a little, hold it up and let the weight of it stretch it out and roll. Once it’s thin enough to see your hand through, it’s good to go. At this point it should be about 14-15 inches wide.
- Assemble the focaccia: Lay the first sheet of dough over a 12 inch pizza tray so that it’s hanging over all the edges (photo 5). Now tear off pieces of cheese and scatter them all over the dough sheet (photo 6). Top it with another sheet of rolled out dough (photo 7). Now trim off the overhang, then roll and press the edges of the dough together all the way round (photo 8).
- Finish and bake: Brush the top with olive oil, sprinkle over salt then tear 4-5 little holes all over to let steam escape. Bake in a very hot oven for 12-15 minutes.
Tips and tricks
- Don’t add too much flour: While it’s tempting to add flour when dough is sticky, be sure to add just a little at a time until it’s manageable and not sticking to everything. Keep in mind, the process of kneading itself will eventually stop the dough from sticking.
- If the dough tears, don’t worry, it’s a very forgiving dough so just press it back together.
- If your cheese is sliceable, you can slice instead of tearing.
Making it ahead
To get ahead, you can make these in the morning or the day before up to the point of baking, then store in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
The dough freezes well and this recipe makes two focaccias, so if you only want to make one, wrap half the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 2-3 months.
If you try this focaccia di recco recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you and it helps other readers too!
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, (divided)
- 2 teaspoons ground sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 390 g bread flour (3 cups / 13.8oz)
- 500 g stracchino / crescenza cheese (1.1 pounds) (see notes for subs)
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- Put two teaspoons of the oil aside.
- In a bowl, mix together the water, remaining oil, salt and flour with a spoon.
- Once it comes together, turn out onto clean surface and knead until smooth and elastic – about 10 minutes. Try not to add too much extra flour – only add if you can’t stop it from sticking.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 250C / 480F (230C fan forced). Lightly grease a pizza tray.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Place 3 pieces aside under plastic wrap. Roll the first piece as thin as you can get it or into a round about 14-15 inches wide. You can also use your hands to gently stretch it out. Hold it up to allow the weight of the dough to stretch itself. It should be 1mm or less thick and you should be able to see your hand through it.
- Lay the sheet of dough over the pizza tray, hanging over the edges. Cut or tear pieces of cheese and scatter all over. This recipe makes 2 focaccias so use half the cheese on each.
- Now roll out a second sheet of dough, just as thinly as the first and lay it over the top of the cheese.
- Press down all the way around the edge of the pizza tray to seal the two pieces together. Use a knife to trim off the excess all the way round. Now use your thumb and two fingers to curl the edge over then press down, repeat this all the way round to completely seal the edges.
- Brush the top with some olive oil. Tear 4-5 little holes in the top layer of dough to allow steam to escape, then sprinkle with salt. Now make the second one.
- Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until the top is golden. Slice and serve straight away.
- This recipe makes 2 x 12 inch focaccias.
- You can make these ahead of time right up to the point of baking. They will keep in the fridge overnight. Don’t tear the dough on top until baking time.
- Good substitutions for stracchino in this recipe are brie, camembert or taleggio but remove the rind. I’ve made this using a combination of brie and fontina and it was lovely.
- The dough can be frozen, so if one focaccia is enough, just wrap the other half of the dough in plastic wrap (2 layers) or place in a zip lock bag and place in the freezer until required.
Recipe adapted from the one here on Food 52.
How I discovered focaccia di recco
It was our honeymoon and Genoa was our last stop in Italy. Neither of us had ever been to Genoa and we were under the impression it was a ‘quaint fishing village’. Tripadvisors main picture was of a largish bayside town which turns out to be Boccadesse. Close by, but not Genoa.
Haha. No, no! It turns out Genoa is actually the 6th largest city in Italy and the capital of Liguria. It’s a huge, very old port city boasting Europes largest aquarium.
Had we not been expecting something very different we probably would have enjoyed it much more but we were looking forward to a more relaxing little seaside town. You know, one of those towns where the ocean spray fills the air and restaurants line a beachside promenade. Umbrellas over the al fresco tables, blue skies, birds flying along the waterline…. Nope! Big port, cars, busy people going about their busy days. A massive aquarium in the shape of a large ship with it’s very own Captain Jack out front. Wait, wha???
Being our honeymoon, we decided to splash out on a flashy dinner. So, the hunt was on for a nice, traditional Italian Restaurant. Enter Ristorante Zeffirino.It was a tricky little place to find but, once we did, the service was outstanding and the food too. The waiter offered us the focaccia to start, with a wry smile, and suggested we’d never seen anything like this. Props to him. He was right and it was delicious. Focaccia di Recco is best eaten fresh and hot. Straight out of the oven in all it’s cheesy glory …. Yum!
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