Sourdough Focaccia bread – anytime is a good time
Bread making. I grew up with it and it is an activity that has been in my DNA forever. Not only that, bread was something that sustained me through some lean times. My mom made 4 to 6 loaves a week of yeast based breads and occasionally would dabble in sourdough.
In this recipe, I extol the virtues and joy of making focaccia because it’s easy, it’s a great utility bread for a lot of meals and it’s virtually impossible to screw up.
Required Babish viewing tutorial below!
I like introducing people to bread making for a variety of reasons. One of which, it’s not rocket science. With a natural yeast starter, bread is no more than flour, water and salt. That’s it. It has been done this way for thousands of years.
As noted above, I think focaccia is a perfect sourdough-bread-baking starting point. It will teach you the fundamentals of working with sourdough without the potentially troublesome steps of shaping, scoring, and baking with Dutch ovens, bread pans and other vessels.
I have completed this recipe around 20 times now so I can attest to the fact that it could be a reliable launch point for your sourdough experience. Or in other words, a way to accumulate bread skills!
The recipe below also can be baked in a loaf pan or a cookie sheet, another great option if you do not want to deal with the skillset and artistry that you will, no doubt, acquire over time when baking-prepping more complicated breads.
Picture below – what your dough looks like after proofing overnight!
Let’s go! I assume that you have an activated, fed and feisty sourdough starter.
Disclaimer The creation and care of the sourdough starter is beyond the scope of this recipe.
Not sure about your starter? Off to the internets you go!
Sourdough tip – Your sourdough starter is good to go/ready to use if you take a tablespoon of it and drop it in a few inches of water and it floats!
1.) Grab a bowl that will hold at least 1/2 kg of dough – that is 500G – so something medium sized.
2.) Add 100g of your ready sourdough starter to the bowl.
3.) Add 8-10g of kosher salt – great salt can effect the flavour so don’t cheap out on this critical ingredient.
4.) Add 360g of warm water (not hot water!) 35 to 45 degrees © or 110 degrees (F) is probably OK but definitely not hotter than that.
5.) Mix the water, salt and starter well.
6.) Gradually add 512g of bread flour. You can use a mixer. I do this by hand or with a bread mixing hook.
Work/knead the dough to form a sticky ball.
Stretch and fold – To develop the gluten in the dough, it is important to stretch and fold the dough twice an hour for the first 2 hours and then once more before putting in the fridge to develop/ferment overnight. There are many awesome YouTube tutorials on the “Stretch and Fold” so find one you like and develop your technique.
7.) You can let this all rise overnight (6 to 12 hours) or slow it down by putting it in the fridge. Fermentation keeps moving along even when your dough is tucked away in a cool area – it changes the flavour some. For keeping the focaccia dough “feisty” I tend to keep it out in the kitchen and work around its schedule.
Rule: Higher room temperature, faster “development” and fermentation of the dough.
8.) Assuming you are doing this overnight, in the morning pull out the dough and give it a few pulls and folds – consult the YouTube video below for some technique-tips (way easier than me trying to explain it!)
Picture above After raising overnight – should look like the above picture.
9.) Get the slightly deflated dough into a bowl with some olive oil (on top and on the bottom…) – it inhibits sticking.
10.) Let rise for 4 – 6 hours. Get out a cookie sheet or deep dish pizza pan (the square of rectangular type…)
11.) Olive Oil the pan “generously” – you need a good continuous coating on the bottom of the pan.
12. ) Transfer the dough into the pan. Cover and “2nd rise” for 4 to 6 hours.
Picture Below – What your 2nd-Raised dough should look like before tossing into the oven. There is some “technique” here but basically, you want to use your fingertip to “Pilsbury Doughboy” (poke) the proofed dough in 12 to 16 spots (the divets) that end up as a place for olive oil drizzle to settle – as well as giving it that signature Italian bread look.
Tip You know the dough has been proofed enough when you press it with your finger and it kind of bounces back by about 75%.
13.) Prior to putting the proofed bread into the oven, garnish with fresh rosemary and a good drizzle of olive oil and artisanal salt – even coarse kosher salt is fine.
14.) Bake for 24 minutes at 450 degrees (F) or until delightfully brown on top. Turn onto drying rack for, at least, 30 minutes or more before cutting — I know, it is tempting to try cutting it when it is right out of the oven. Don’t do it!
– This bread is perfect with any meal – it does not need butter as it is infused with olive oil. It reheats well in the microwave prior to serving. It can also be served with a balsamic vinegar dip or any imaginable spread you can concoct.
Remember: It is perfect all by itself.
It is crunchy, chewy, nutritious and tasty… and guess what, it’s going to get eaten fast.
One thing to remember
All breads need time to cool – I cannot repeat this enough! So…
Let it cool before cutting!
Listen to me talk about this subject for 4 minutes if that helps!
Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and long time coffee expert – writing on the subject of coffee for over 20 years! His dissertation on this subject can be found over on www.coffeecrew.com – Have any questions on bread-making, coffee, life, the Universe, and everything? Send me an e-mail for goodness sakes!
Bread making. I grew up with it and it is an activity that has been in my DNA forever. Not only that, bread was something that sustained me through some lean times. My mom made 4 to 6 loaves a week of yeast based breads and occasionally would dabble in sourdough. In this recipe, I…