I recently saw some pictures of Sourdough Focaccia bread from The Perfect Loaf on Reddit and decided to try it out. I wasn’t sorry I tried this recipe. It was honestly the best Focaccia I’ve ever made!
I first had focaccia as a child when my mother would take us to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. The St. Lawrence Market is a huge indoor market with stalls selling produce, meats, breads, cheeses, baked goods and much more! One of the bakeries we would always stop at sold focaccia loaves that were topped with tomatoes. These breads were about 1 1/2 to 2 inches high and had a soft spongy crumb. They also had a good dose of olive oil in the bread and around the bread dough. Boy were these tasty! I loved when we would get a loaf and tear off chunks to eat as we walked around the market. I’ve never had anything quite like it since!
I have made focaccia with varying degrees of success since then. Most recipes come out like pizza with different toppings. This winter I made a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated that was quite good. But it paled in comparison to this focaccia!
The dough for this focaccia recipe is quite soft and wet. After the fermentation time it was jiggly and had a really interesting, almost marshmallow-like texture.
I topped it with grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, rosemary, olive oil and salt and baked it for 25 minutes until it was nice and golden. The bread rose quite high when it baked! I would say it was about 2 inches high. The texture and flavour of the bread were both amazing. It wasn’t dry or hard like I’ve found many focaccia recipes to turn out. The dough was spongy and easy to tear apart and so flavourful! It reminded me of the focaccia that I had had at the St. Lawrence Market. I have finally found the recipe I’ve been looking for!
I have transcribed the recipe here for you with example times for your reference. I really hope you try this recipe. It’s worth it!
For those of you getting this post by email, please click on the title at the top of the post to go to the website and view the recipe.
Sourdough FocacciaThis sourdough focaccia bread is amazingly soft and flavourful! It takes just about the same amount of time as making a good focaccia with commercial yeast but tastes much better! This dough requires slap/fold kneading. You can see how to do this as well as how to stretch and fold in my Cranberry Walnut Sourdough Video Here. Recipe Source: The Perfect Loaf
- 9:00 am - Add mature sourdough starter, flour, water and salt to a mixing bowl. Do not add the olive oil at this time. Mix by hand until the dough forms a cohesive mass, then continue kneading the dough using the slap/fold technique until it becomes smooth and elastic.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil to the dough in the mixing bowl. Mix the dough and oil together until the oil is fully absorbed and the dough comes back together, 3-5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a covered container for bulk fermentation.
- 9:15 am - 1:15 pm - Give the dough 4 sets of stretch and folds, starting 30 minutes after mixing, and a set every 30 minutes thereafter. After 4 sets of stretch and folds, transfer the dough to an well olive-oiled, deep rectangular pan.
- Ferment the dough for 2 more hours. During this time gently stretch the dough, with wet hands, toward the corners of the rectangular container. The dough will resist stretching and spring back (especially with the oil underneath), but don't force it — each time you stretch it'll relax a bit more and eventually fill the container.
- 1:15 - 3:15 pm - At 76-78°F (24-25°C) let the dough proof, untouched but covered, for 2 hours. This time period is flexible and dependent on the temperature: if it's cooler, let it proof longer, and conversely, if it's warm you might be able to bake sooner. By the end of bulk, the dough should be very gassy and it should have risen in the rectangular container (see images below). If you poke it with wet fingers it'll feel extremely soft and jiggly— like poking a marshmallow.
- 3:15 pm - Top and Bake - First, dimple the unadorned dough with wet fingers. Make sure the dimples are evenly spaced and go all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Then, drizzle on 1-2 tablespoons of your extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and coarse sea salt. If using other toppings, add them now as well and press them gently into the dough.
- Bake the focaccia in the oven at 450°F (230°C) until deeply colored on top, about 30 minutes. Rotate the pan front-to-back halfway through this time. Keep an eye on it during the last 5 minutes and pull it out if it's coloring too quickly, or leave it in longer if you'd like it a little darker. Let the focaccia cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack. It's fantastic warm from the oven, and best on the day of baking, but it'll keep well for a couple days loosely wrapped in foil (reheat before serving).