I regret not making sourdough focaccia before this! It’s really easy and delicious. It should be the first bread you make in the Sourdough adventure. Ever since I was successful with my Sourdough starter, Joe, I kept to only making loaves of bread for a year. One year trying different flours, hydrations and processes until I felt comfortable. When I felt ready and trusted myself with a recipe, then I started to try other types of recipes.
If you want to see my recipe with commercial yeast (not sourdough) you can see it here.
An easy bread
Sourdough focaccia is really easy compared to a loaf of bread for many reasons. First and foremost, you don’t need bread flour to make it, all-purpose flour is actually best! This makes it a lot easier for lots of people who live in places where bread flour isn’t readily available. The fact that it uses all-purpose flour means that the focaccia ends up being really soft and fluffy :)! The other reason that makes it easier is that you don’t have to shape it like a loaf, just spread it out on the pan. Also, it’s mixed and baked on the same day, which is convenient. And last but not least, it doesn’t need vapour in the cooking process. That means you don’t need to worry about adding water to the oven, the dutch oven and all that. The only thing that’s a bit more complicated is that the dough is much stickier than the one for a loaf.
Before making this recipe I made my research, reading many recipes with different methods, times and temperatures. In the end, I know what I like in my sourdough doughs but a reference is always useful. The times for the recipe are from Maurizio’s The Perfect Loaf. I met him a couple of years ago and trust his recipes blindly. The quantities are different because I adapted everything to all-purpose flour. This is because I read several articles that said that the final bread is fluffier with it. Also, I love my focaccia with plenty of olive oil, hehe. In the end, I love how it turned out! I love the soft interior with a crispy crust, that delicious olive oil taste and that beautiful crumb. I can’t wait for you to try it!
This sourdough focaccia has a specific time schedule because I find that it’s easier to explain it that way. Of course, you can shift everything the same amount of time to fit your personal schedule. It’s just a reference so that you know the intervals between each step. As always, making sourdough brad takes more time than with commercial yeast, but it’s also really worth it. This bread can be made on the same day. You start with the feeding of the starter in the morning for the levain and finishing in the evening with the baking (and eating). It doesn’t need a retarded fermentation (in the fridge).
However, if you want it to get this sourdough focaccia a bit sourer and deeper in flavour, you can place it in the fridge overnight after step number 6 in the recipe. There it can spend 8-12 hours. After that time you take it out and place it in a warm spot for 3 hours. Then go over to step 7 in the recipe. Oh also, bread freezes really well! So once done, you can freeze it up whole or cut up :). Then when you want some you just place it straight in the oven and it’s as good as fresh.
You can be as creative as you like with the toppings on your sourdough focaccia. In this case I went for a simple flaked salt, pepper and peperoncino, but you can also add cherry tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, onion… the options are endless! You can cut up your focaccia in strips, squares or even large pieces that you can open up to make sandwiches. Just look at how delicious this mozzarella, prosciutto, basil and (more) olive oil looks!
For the levain
- 50 g active sourdough starter at its peak of activity
- 100 g all-purpose flour
- 100 g lukewarm water
For the focaccia
- 580 g all-purpose flour
- 20 g olive oil + more to grease the pan
- 380 g lukewarm water
- 10 g salt
- 120 g levain from above once it has doubled in size
- Flaked or coarse salt
- Peperoncino / Chili flakes
- Extras: olives, cherry tomatoes, herbs, etc.
For the levain
- 9:30 am Feed 50g of your active starter with the lukewarm water and flour. Let it ferment in a warm spot. Don't use it until it has increased volume to double the original size.
For the focaccia
- 1 pm (adapt to the time your levain is ready) Mix all the ingredients. The dough will be really sticky but shouldn't feel liquidy. If it does feel liqiudy, add more flour.
- After it comes together we're going to knead the dough. If you have a stand mixer you can knead the dough using the dough hook on 3rd speed for 7 minutes or until it starts to unstick from the edges of the bowl. If you knead it by hand you can do it the way you know or use the slap and fold like I did. As you see, it's sticky. Avoid adding more flour as much as possible. Stop after 15 minutes of kneading or when you feel the dough has more resistance and starts to unstick from the table.
- Once it's ready, place it in a clean and damp bowl. As you can see in the photo, the dough isn't smooth. Cover it and place it in a warm spot. In my case, that's my oven that's turned off but with the light on. At this point it should be close to 1:15 pm.
- 1:45 pm Dampen your hands and make 4 folds on 4 sides as if it were a square, to strengthen the gluten. Cover it back up and return it to its warm spot. Repeat the same process at 2:15 and 2:45 pm.
- 3:15 pm Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the base of your pan. Transfer the dough onto it and pull gently on it to stretch it out. It will shrink back, though! Specially with the oil underneath. Cover it and place it in a warm spot again.
- 3:45 pm Now that the dough has rested a bit, stretch it out a bit more to fill more of the pan. Cover it and leave it in a warm spot. Repeat this process of stretching it out again at 4:15, 4:45 and 5:15 pm. By the time you do the last stretch, it should fill the pan. Cover and let it proof in a warm spot.
- 7:15 pm Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the dough.
- Use your fingers (with a bit of oil) to make dimples on the dough. You want to make them deep without breaking the dough at the bottom. Sprinkle it with salt, pepper and whatever other ingredient you like.
- Bake the focaccia in a preheated oven at 230°C /450°F for 20-30 minutes or until very golden.