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Focaccia with Olives, Pecorino Cheese and Orange Zest


1 cups/360 ml lukewarm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
tsp salt
tsp sugar
3 cups/440 g all-purpose plain flour
6 tbsp/90 ml extra-virgin olive oil
cup/115 g black oil-cured olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
3 oz/85 g fresh pecorino cheese, preferably pecorino fresco del l'amiata cheese, sliced thinly
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for sprinkling
2 large oranges, for zesting

Makes one 12 x 16 in/30 x 40cm focaccia


Place the water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast onto the surface of the water, along with the salt and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve and then add half of the flour. Stir to form a very wet and sticky starter dough. Place a kitchen towel over the bowl and let the dough stand at room temperature for 2 hours. When the dough has rested and risen by about a third, add the remaining flour along with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and the olives. Stir to combine and then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes or until it is sticky but has a spring to the touch. Place the dough back in the bowl, rub with a small amount of the olive oil, cover, and let rest for another hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using the tips of your fingers and the palms of your hands, press and stretch out the dough to form a 12 x 16-in/30 x 40-cm rectangle. The dough will be quite springy, so let it rest a bit between stretching. Rub a 12 x 16-in/30 x 40-cm baking sheet/tray with 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Transfer the dough to the oiled pan and, using only your fingertips, push the dough to the borders of the pan, allowing your fingertips to form deep imprints. sprinkle the rosemary over the surface and then the slices of pecorino. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas 6. When the dough is ready to bake, Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, drizzle the remaining oil over the surface, and then grate the oranges directly onto the cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the bottom is cooked through. Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

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