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What is obsession?  When is it helpful and when does it get silly?

Ever since that episode of Chef’s Table on Nancy Silverton, I’ve been dwelling, not upon, but inside this subject.

The episode, of course, celebrates a chef’s willingness to spend an inexhaustible amount of effort to close that last short climb between what is already a great dish to a conceivably perfect one.  A distance too short and steep no doubt, for most to commit.  But to Silverton, especially when it comes to breads, being obsessed is not a question of should or shouldn’t, but do you have what it takes?  I am, however, at least not today, talking about the theoretical aspect of obsessions.  Instead, I’d like to bring forth the physical one that I was sent into after watching her episode.

During that show, there was about a 30-seconds scene showcasing a flatbread-looking pie, a glowing golden-brown mirage.  Captivated by that glimpse, nothing but a glimpse, without even knowing what “it” actually was, I plunged into a months-long pursuit from grasping what I saw to realizing it in my own kitchen.   First, it took me a considerable amount of Googling to find out what I initially thought was a “thin double-sided pizza stuffed with mozzarella?”, to be something actually called focaccia di recco from her restaurant Chi Spacca, an extremely crispy-edged, flatbread-like creature that has nothing to do with either pizza nor mozzarella, or the typical focaccia for that matter.  The dish is essentially dollops of fresh cow’s milk cheese cocooning in between two stretched, unyeasted, paper-thin films of dough, and baked into a ballooned and blistered pie with cheese-filled underground chambers.  Mostly cracker-like crispy, partially soft and stretchy, all in all and bona fide gastronomic wonder unlike anything I have ever seen.

It, allegedly, took her two whole years to perfect.

Since then, I bled over bringing it into my reality.  I don’t have anything else to elaborate other than the every words already written in the instructions, each summarizing hours and hours of theorizing, testings, failings, staring, and re-testings, presented to you, as shortly and concisely as I think what a normal human being has patience for.  The result rewarded and justified every last drop of sweat and tears spent, and whatever difference there may be from the real deal, I confide in my belief to be a result of hardware issues (commercial oven VS. home electric oven).  Except, maybe, whatever experience I cannot transcribe through words.  And if so, then that my friend, is where only your obsession can take you.  But it’s worth it, let me tell you.  It’s all worth it.

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I don't think Nancy Silverton has published this particular recipe (I could be wrong), so this is NOT her recipe, but just my interpretation of the version she serves at her restaurant, which is quite different looking from traditional focaccia di Recco.


    DOUGH: strongly recommend measuring by weight
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (15 grams) bread flour
  • 2 tbsp (30 grams) water
  • 1/2 tsp (2 grams) instant dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp (1 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup (215 grams) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp (105 grams) water
  • 1 tsp (6 grams) fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp (6 grams) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3.5 oz (100 grams) Greek feta, broken into chunks
  • 5.3 oz (150 grams) brie (without rind), cut into chunks
  • 4.2 oz (120 grams) cream cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. PREPARE DOUGH: Un-yeasted dough tends to lack complex flavors, but this is a dish where we DO NOT want the dough to rise. Therefore, we are going to introduce the yeasted flavors into the main dough by adding a small amount of cooked yeasted dough. In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together bread flour, water, instant dry yeast and light brown sugar, cover, and let ferment for 2 hours. Then microwave the mixture on high for 25 seconds to kill the yeast (or cook over medium heat until thickened). You'll have a thick roux-like mixture afterwards.
  2. In a stand-mixer bowl with dough-hook, add the cooked yeasted mixture, along with bread flour, water, fine sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. Mix on low until a cohesive dough comes together, then turn to high speed and knead for another 7~8 minutes, until the dough is extremely elastic and smooth. The dough should pull away cleanly from the bowl during mixing, and feels soft and tacky but NOT sticking to your hands, and should smell like uncooked bread. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for AT LEAST two hours. This is a dish where you want the dough to be extremely relaxed in order to stretch properly. You can also prepare the dough the day before, wrapped in plastic-wrap and keep inside the fridge, but let it sit at room-temperature for at least 1 hours before using.
  3. 45 minutes before cooking, preheat the oven on 500 F/250 C, with a pizza-stone (if available) set in the middle rack. While the oven's preheating, make the filing and shape the focaccia.
  4. PREPARE FILLING: About filling, a soft and young Italian cheese called Cresenza or Stracchino is traditionally used. If you can find it, great, you'll need about 1 1/4 cup of it. But most likely, like me, you won't be able to find this particular cheese, so we're going to blend our own. Some online source says to substitute strachino with mascarpone. I repeat, DO NOT use mascarpone, which will melt into a puddle of oily, milky water. I've tested SEVERAL different types of cheese, and concluded that the following yields the best result. If you're gonna deviate, know your cheese or do it at your own peril.
  5. In a food-processor, pulse/run the Greek feta (adds saltiness and a slight tang) until whipped and creamy. Add the brie (adds fat and a slight funk), and run again until creamy. Add the cream cheese (creates a consistently creamy body), and pulse until just incorporated. Set aside in the fridge while you roll the dough.
  6. SHAPE FOCACCIA: The recipe will make one large 13 1/2" (35 cm) round pie, or you can use a large rectangular sheet-pan as well. On a well-floured surface, divide the dough in half. Keep the dough floured as needed, and roll the first half portion into a thin sheet that is about the size of the pan you're using. Leave the first sheet on the counter and roll out the second half as well. This allow the first portion to REST again before stretching.
  7. Brush the surface of a 35 cm shallow pizza pan evenly with extra virgin olive oil (you must or it will stick)(Nancy uses a custom-made copper pan)(you can also use two smaller pizza pan, or rectangular baking-sheet). Drape the first sheet over the pan, then kind of like tightening a plastic-wrap over a plate, SLOWLY stretch the sides of the dough outwards exceeding the edges of the pan until the dough is very thin, almost opaque and film-like. You should be able to almost see through it. Tuck the edges underneath the pan to secure it. Now divide the filling into 5 large dollops and arrange them evenly on the surface. Drape the second sheet over, then stretch it out just like stretching the first sheet. Gently use the heels of your hands to contour the dough around the fillings, resulting in multiple dome-like surface (see photo). Pinch the edges of the doughs to close, then press down on the edges to cut off any excess rims. Now, tear a 3" (7 cm) opening directly on top of EACH filling, allowing the cheese to spill over a little during baking.
  8. Drizzle about 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil on top and gently brush it around (doesn't have to be perfect). Place the pan on top of the pizza-stone, and bake until puffed, golden browned and bubbly all over. The cooking-time will largely depend on the competence of your oven, going from 5~10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place on top of a burner over high heat for another 20 seconds to crisp up the bottom as well.
  9. Generously drizzle more olive oil as evenly as you can over the focaccia. Dusk with a bit of freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.
  • Angela

    July 14, 2017 at 11:33 PM Reply

    Thank you thank you thank you! This looks unbelievably good. I must try to make this.

  • sasa

    July 14, 2017 at 11:49 PM Reply

    Hi, do you think i could assemble it in the morning and just pop it into the oven few hours later?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      July 15, 2017 at 12:35 PM Reply

      Sasa, I wouldn’t recommend shaping the focaccia hours before baking. But you can make the dough and filling ahead of time, and shape it before baking.

  • Courtney

    July 15, 2017 at 12:36 AM Reply

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have had dreams about this focaccia bread ever since I had it for the first time at Chi Spacca 2 years ago. It’s just as amazing as the episode makes it out to be. I have never ever ever had a bread like this before and though I can only describe it as an out of this world crispy cheesy pizza-like goodness that name doesn’t do it any bit of justice. Also your version looks almost identical to the real thing and I am so set on trying this recipe out at home! Thank you!

  • stefano - italian home cooking

    July 15, 2017 at 1:08 AM Reply

    it looks really good & she is generally pretty good.
    Just one observation: in the authentic and traditional focaccia di recco, the dough is a simple unyeasted affair, does she explain why she thinks her version is better? she is generally realiable and a perfectionist and I m curious to know what are reasons behind her re-working (of the original model). Stracchino can be made at home rather easily, from what I see on line (I have made in the past similar, mildly acidic fresh cheese and they are dead easy)

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      July 15, 2017 at 12:32 PM Reply

      Stefano, I don’t think she has published her recipe (I could be wrong), but this is purely my interpretation of her version in the restaurant, which is quite different looking than the traditional ones.

      • Stefano - italianhomecooking

        July 15, 2017 at 3:25 PM Reply

        Mandy, if u r interested I can translate the official recipe: Focaccia di Recco is one of those products that has been granted an official status and there is a consortium that guards how it is made, its ingredients ecc . I was wondering if your “killed yeast” dough makes a real difference in flavour vs, for instance, an unyeasted dough that is left to slighly ferment at room temperatur for 24 hrs.. In the cooking od this part od Italy, unyeasted dough is often used in savoury tourtes, the most famous being Torta Pasqualina, a spring vegetable tart that goes back to the renaissance (there is a story about it on my blog)(and also described in the book by colman andrews about the food od the riviera). Sometimes to give more flavour to the dough I add 10% finely milled wholemeal flour + some white wine (this is very Italian) . I am curious to try yr LOvely cheese mix, which sounds dangerously delicious

        For anyone interested, this is peter reinhart’s description of focaccia di recco

        And this is a vide in Italian from the rstaurant Manuelina, that is credited to have popularized the focaccia

        (And another one.

        • mandy@ladyandpups

          July 16, 2017 at 11:45 PM Reply

          Ivhadv researched on traditional recipes and sort of based my version on that, but I’m not trying to recreate a traditional focaccia Di recco more than trying to mimic Nancy’s version at her Restaurant. I love the white wine idea! Will for sure give it a try next time :)

  • Deanna

    July 15, 2017 at 4:08 AM Reply

    I’m dying to make this, but my oven is sadly not up to the task. regardless of the setting, it turns out my oven can not and will not go past 400 degrees. No amount of begging or crying or swearing has changed it’s mind. It shouldn’t be hard to convince a friend with a pizza oven to let me make it at their house.

  • Wendy

    July 15, 2017 at 5:03 AM Reply

    What type of pan, please – I have no idea what type of cookware you show in the photos.

  • thefolia

    July 15, 2017 at 5:26 AM Reply

    I’m salivating and I just stuffed my face with a poke bowl!

  • Jessie

    July 15, 2017 at 11:45 AM Reply

    why is this so—unutterably–beautiful==makes me want to weep.

  • Raschell @

    July 16, 2017 at 9:16 AM Reply

    OMG. This is heavenly and I adore your description!

  • feriza mia

    July 17, 2017 at 9:56 AM Reply

    so delicious…

  • Lucio Bernini

    July 20, 2017 at 6:11 PM Reply


    • kimithy

      July 20, 2017 at 11:36 PM Reply

      @Lucio Bernini – she states clearly she is not trying to recreate the traditional recipe, but rather an interpretation of the version found in Nancy Silverton’s restaurant.

  • Lucio Bernini

    July 20, 2017 at 6:13 PM Reply


  • Alex

    July 20, 2017 at 9:31 PM Reply

    Mandy, your description of this creation is more beautiful than a Shakespearean sonnet. Bravo on all fronts!

    Just watched Nancy’s episode last week! I loved her obsessive ways, too. She was actually on Radio Cherry Bombe a few months back and it was interesting to hear her talk about the filming of that episode. Sounded like she didn’t have the best time, to say the least :(

  • David Schutz

    July 23, 2017 at 12:24 PM Reply


  • Patty

    July 25, 2017 at 12:53 AM Reply

    Mandy! I made this yesterday and oh, wow… it was so good! With a hunch, I made the dough the day before and it was so easy to stretch out. I got lazy with the cheese and bought a nice taleggio… it was just strong and oily enough. Thank you for doing all the heavy lifting with all your fabulous recipes!!

  • Amy

    July 29, 2017 at 3:07 PM Reply

    I made this as written, it was perfect. Thank you Mandy!

  • Karen Bradeen

    August 1, 2017 at 4:17 AM Reply

    From a novice cook – I just made this and it was delicious. Thank you!

  • Daniela Varano

    August 14, 2017 at 8:52 PM Reply

    That looks amazing! I’ll try it tonight. I wonder if to kill the yeast easily you can put it in boiling water and then use the (cooled) water to make the dough.

  • pavitra

    September 1, 2017 at 6:15 PM Reply

    Wow, Its looking delicious. i love this recipe. I would try it by this weekend for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  • willy

    September 11, 2017 at 11:01 PM Reply

    yummi. very useful. wish i could make it. thanks.

  • Makos(@thehungrybites)

    September 24, 2017 at 5:41 PM Reply

    Hey, Mandy! I’m pretty sure that tonight I’ll dream of this blistery dough and the melted cheese…

  • Jim

    December 13, 2017 at 11:17 PM Reply

    Tried making this the other day. I don’t have a stand mixed so I used the dough setting on a bread machine. After putting the yeast mixture in the microwave it came out in a ball that never mixed in with the rest of the ingredients so I trashed it.
    Making again today. Yeast mixture is currently sitting covered. Will do one of 3 things.
    1) using stovetop method for killing yeast instead of microwave.

    2) not killing the yeast and using bread machine on dough setting.

    3) not killing yeast and mixing by hand. Ideas?

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      December 14, 2017 at 1:00 AM Reply

      Jim, you have to kill the yeast or else the dough will rise! I suggest cooking the yeast dough over the stove on low heat until it’s thickened and goo-like.

  • Jenny

    December 25, 2017 at 12:12 AM Reply

    I am planning on making this for Christmas, but I am without a stand mixer since we’re in a rental house for the holidays. Will I be able to knead it sufficiently by hand? I have a hand mixer; maybe I could use that to start and then switch to kneading by hand? Any recommendations? Thanks!! I’ve been dying to try this since you first posted it!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      December 25, 2017 at 2:25 AM Reply

      Jenny, the dough needs lots of gluten to be extra elastic, so kneading with hands will be hard. But if you really have to, i’d Say knead it at least for 30 min by hands, and let it rest for 2 hours :). Goof luck!

    • Irma

      May 8, 2020 at 4:24 PM Reply

      I don’t have a pizza oven, is it possible to use a normal oven?

  • Amanda Huey-Black

    June 1, 2018 at 10:08 PM Reply

    Hello Mandy,
    Really Loved this cheesy, crispy bread. As a maker of sourdough.,not seeing the yeast bubble or the dough double, after 2 hours respectively was difficult and strange. However I stuck to your recipe and all was well. I sprinkled some fresh thyme over the cheese and on top as well,before baking……..and drizzled honey after….. very delicious and surprisingly light. I enjoyed the second day dough more than the first….baked better too!
    Will definately be making this again!!

  • MPaula

    July 22, 2018 at 7:54 AM Reply

    Now, THIS recipe deserved to be called Crack (I am vegetarian) – bread and cheese and cheese and cheese and bread!. I will do my best to make this no matter how many trials it takes.

  • Jody

    August 2, 2018 at 10:38 PM Reply

    I made this last night for guests. I added a bit of arugula with olive oil on top when i served it and it was beyond incredible. I also made your General Tsao’s Chicken Wings and the Marscapone Soft Serve. Mandy, you are a GENIUS! Every single bite of everything was accompanied by OMG, fingers being licked and appreciation for your recipes. Your clear instructions, learned tidbits and absolutely gorgeous photography sets you head and shoulders above food bloggers IMO. Thank you for sharing your talent and passion. I’m off to make your Magic 15-second scrambled eggs… a weekly request from my family.

  • Mike

    January 11, 2019 at 11:53 PM Reply

    Tallageo Italian soft cheese might well
    Some one used tallageo and ricotta together
    I’ve used it on top of pizza and it melts well
    With good flavor

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