Yum, right? Carby, Cheesy goodness with a bit of a kick. A great accompaniment to soup, or just to cram into your face with butter. My house does love its cheese, so this is the only focaccia I make where leftovers just don’t exist. I guess I can’t be too upset about it.

As much as I wish I was awesome enough to have developed my own recipe … yeah, not so much. This is adapted from On Baking, which was one of my textbooks in my culinary program. It’s pretty solid, even if I don’t … actually follow it…

So if you want just a solid basic focaccia, this recipe is great! It’s an easy one (though much easier with a stand mixer than kneading all by hand) and easily customizable (you can swap out the rosemary for your favorite herbs or herb blends – this recipe is also fantastic with Herbes de Provence). But you’re not here for that, so let me give you the info for the jalapeno cheese version =)

Okay, here we go! (And remember, this recipe is scaled up for my house of 20-something people! Do feel free to cut it in half for a single, more reasonable loaf)

The Goods:

  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups lukewarm/warm water (I just microwave tap water for like 30 seconds)
  • 2lb 4oz all-purpose flour (this usually ends up about 8 cups, if you don’t have a scale or can’t be bothered)
  • 1+ Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 or 3 fresh jalapenos, seeds and membranes removed, finely diced
  • somewhere between 12 and 16 oz shredded cheddar (or “mexican blend,” that’s also delicious)

The Method:

  • In the work bowl of your mixer (fitted with your dough hook), add your yeast, sugar, and water. Let that sit for a couple minutes to wake up the yeast. You don’t need to wait until it’s foamy.
  • Chuck in your flour and start your mixer going on the lowest setting (on my Kitchenaid, that one is “stir”)
  • As the flour is incorporating, drizzle in about 1T oil and add the salt.
  • Knead (in the mixer) until the dough comes together and cleans the side of the bowl. If it looks like the dough isn’t picking up all the flour, drizzle in a little extra oil.
  • Reserve a couple big handfuls of cheese for topping the loaves and chuck the rest into the mixer.
  • Knead until the cheese is incorporated into the dough. You should have a nice smooth firm ball of dough now, with no shaggy bits. At this point I turn it out onto my counter and give it a couple kneads by hand just to form it into a ball. If you poke your dough ball, the divot should bounce back.
  • Oil your (currently empty) mixing bowl, plop the dough ball back in, oil the top of your dough. (I actually usually use cooking spray for this step since it’s so much faster)
  • Cover with plastic wrap or just a tea towel and leave in a warm-ish spot for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size.
  • Preheat your oven to 425 F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. (If you’ve halved this recipe, you’ll only need one. I assume you don’t have giant full-sized restaurant sheet pans in your kitchen, but I could be wrong??)
  • Punch down the dough (honestly? I often skip this.), divide into two big blobs, and pat each one into a circle… or whatever shape best works for the baking sheet you’ve got. They should be flattened to no more than 1 inch high. (This would be why I skip the punching down – flattening your dough will work out enough of the air pockets anyway. Pop any large/obvious ones you see and pat the dough back down into the hole)
  • Top with the rest of the cheddar and the jalapenos, and let rise for 15ish minutes.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and delicious and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it.
  • Rest it (this is going to be torture, I know) for at least half an hour before cutting it.

And now you have delicious cheesy bread! You can of course skip the jalapeno if you’re heat-averse, or leave the seeds and membranes if you want more heat (Or just use hotter peppers) – and feel free to reach out if you’d like to hear about my other riffs/add-ins to this recipe!