Monday, July 29, 2013

Have a Happy Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day with Spicy Focaccia with Gorgonzola and Roasted Red Pepper!

It’s a cool, rainy day here in central New York. I noticed that all of this rain we've had has certainly been good for our trees when I took Miss Ellie for a walk this morning. The leaves on our Japanese Maples are a deep crimson and reminded me of the puya chilies I've been working with. I thought I would use some of the puya chilies that the fine folks from Marx Foods sent me to make a spicy and rich focaccia to go with dinner tonight. I love cheese in breads - comfort food - and since I had some Gorgonzola and Parm in the fridge, they went into the bread. It’s a perfect way to take care of the nip that will be in the air this evening and satisfy this crazy need of mine to bake bread.

Spicy Focaccia with Gorgonzola and Roasted Red Pepper
by Diana

2 Marx Foods Dried Puya Chilies, about 1/8 ounce, or 1 teaspoon once they’re ground
½ teaspoon Aleppo chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Mediterranean oregano
¼ teaspoon thyme
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 ½ cups water, divided
1 ½ Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups 00 flour
½ cup instant mashed potato flakes
1 ¾ teaspoons salt
½ cup olive oil, divided
Shortening to grease pan
1/3 pound Gorgonzola cheese
½ ounce of finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2 roasted red peppers, diced into ½ inch pieces

Lightly toast chilies in a dry skillet over medium low heat until they start to puff slightly. Remove from heat and cool. Place chilies in a coffee mill or spice mill and grind to a coarse powder. In a small bowl, mix both chilies with garlic, oregano, thyme tomato paste and ¼ cup of hot water. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Place 2 ¼ cups of cool water in the stand mixer bowl. Add honey and yeast and mix together with paddle attachment. Add flour, potato flakes, salt and chili mixture. Mix on low speed for 3-4 minutes. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then add ¼ cup of olive oil and mix for 5 minutes on medium speed. Scoop out the dough and place in an oiled 9”x 13” plastic container. I like to use the rectangular container because it makes the next step easier, but you can use a bowl. Cover it tightly. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Now we’re going to do the first of three “stretch and folds.” I think our very own Donna Currie explains it quite well over on Serious Eats.

You can also watch this video on you tube of Peter Rheinhart demonstrating the technique.

Wait 15 minutes after the first stretch and fold and then do it again. Repeat. After the third stretch and fold, cover the container tightly and place in the fridge for six hours or overnight.

Six hours later or the next day, generously grease a 13” x 18” sheet pan with shortening. Remove dough from fridge. Scoop it out onto the sheet pan and stretch it to the sides of the pan. Don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the sides completely. It will as it rises. Cover it lightly with oiled plastic wrap. Let it rise for 1 ½ hours at room temperature in a draft free place.

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in lower third of oven. Remove plastic wrap from pan. Evenly crumble Gorgonzola over the dough. Sprinkle on some of the grated parm and top with roasted red peppers. Drizzle remaining ¼ cup of olive oil over the top. Place sheet pan in oven. After 5 minutes, reduce heat to 425 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Remove from oven and run a sharp knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Slide out onto cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Tiffany! Diana is a dough master! I'll tell her you liked it!

    2. I'm glad you liked it! Halved cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes are wonderful on it also. If you really want an outstanding presentation, try mixing it up with orange cherry tomatoes, red grape tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes. The contrast of colors and shapes makes for a very pretty bread.