2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast (1 standard packet)
1 and 1/3 cups (320ml) warm water, about 110°F (43°C)
3 and 1/2 cups (440g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 Tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
Egg wash:1 large egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk
8 slices cheese or 2 cups shredded (I use sharp cheddar)
16 thin slices deli ham or 2 cups cubed ham
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, combine the yeast and warm water. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes until the mixture is foamy. If the yeast doesn’t dissolve or foam, your yeast is dead. Start again with active yeast. Add flour, sugar, olive oil, and salt. Mix by hand or with the dough hook on low speed for 1 minute. Once all of the ingredients are mixed, slowly knead for 7 minutes by hand or with your dough hook on low-medium speed. If your dough is too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour. After kneading, your dough should be smooth and elastic. Poke it with your finger – if it slowly bounces back, your dough is ready to rise. If not, keep kneading.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large mixing bowl that has been greased lightly with olive oil. Turn it over to coat all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm environment (about 75°F or 80°F/24°C or 27°C)1 for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Once risen, punch the dough down to release the air. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, slice dough in half. Then slice each half into quarters. You’ll have 8 pieces of dough, as shown in the photo above. Flatten each piece with your fingers or use a rolling pin. You want each piece of flattened dough to be about 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. They don’t have to be perfect rectangles, as you can see in my photos! Transfer flattened dough to the baking sheets. Place the cheese (I fold the slice in half) and ham (2 slices for each) on top of the dough on one side, then fold the other side over top. Pinch the edges to seal as best you can. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Brush the tops and sides of each pocket with egg wash, then slice 2-3 slits in the tops for air vents (use a super sharp knife to do that).
Bake the pockets for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Make sure to rotate the baking sheet once or twice during bake time. Remove pockets from the oven and allow to cool on the pan until ready to handle and serve.
Make ahead tip: The pockets can be made through step 4 then covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Then bake as directed. You can also freeze the baked pockets, which is what I do. After the pockets cool, wrap them individually in aluminum foil and freeze. Then microwave for 2-3 minutes on high or bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes. No need to thaw. To make just the dough ahead of time, see freezing and thawing instructions in my pizza crust post.
1. For the warm environment, I heat up my oven to 200°F (93°C). Then, I turn the oven off and keep the door slightly opened.
This will be a warm environment for your dough to rise. After about 30 minutes, I close the oven door to trap warmish air inside.
If you are not using an instant yeast, your dough will take longer to double in size.