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sourdough focaccia, crumb shot

Simple Sourdough Focaccia


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 24 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 loaf

Description

Adapted from my favorite yeasted, slow-rise focaccia recipe — overnight refrigerator focaccia — this recipe replaces the yeast with a sourdough starter.

UPDATE: Video guidance is here! Watch up above or click the link below in the recipe card. 

What you need to make this recipe…:

  • a sourdough starter. I bought mine from Breadtopia. It was easy to activate. There are no instructions on the package itself; follow the instructions on the video here.
  • time. Once your starter is ready to go, this recipe requires an initial 4- 18 hour rise, followed by a second 4- to 6-hour second rise. After the initial rise (depending on the time of year and temperature of your kitchen), you can deflate the dough, and stick it in the fridge for 8 to 10 hours (maybe longer), which might help you regarding your schedule. Keep in mind, when you remove the dough from the fridge and transfer it to a pan, it will still need to rise for another 5- to 6- hours.
  • water. Apparently, chlorine in water can adversely affect sourdough. Leaving water at room temperature for 24 hours will allow most of the chlorine to escape.When I am in the habit of making sourdough bread, I fill a large pitcher with water and leave it out at room temperature. I use this for my sourdough breads and starter. Truth be told, I’ve used water straight from the tap and have not noticed a difference.

Water quantity: Depending on where you live and the time of year, you may need to cut the water back. If you live in a humid environment, for instance, I would suggest starting with 430 g water. If you are not using bread flour, you also may need to cut the water back a bit.

Timing:

The more I make sourdough, the more I realize so much depends on the time of year and the temperature of my kitchen. In the summer, because it is so warm, the first rise (bulk fermentation) takes between 4 – 6 hours; in the winter the first rise takes 12 – 18 hours.

The key with this recipe is to make sure the first rise doesn’t go to long — you want the dough to nearly double. A straight sided vessel  (as opposed to a bowl) makes gauging the first rise easier. (Note: If your dough rises above double, don’t despair … recently my dough tripled in volume during an overnight rise, and the resulting focaccia was still delicious, light, airy, etc.)

A few thoughts: If you are making this focaccia in the summer (northern hemisphere), use 50 g of starter and check the dough every couple of hours. If you are making this in the winter, use 100 g of starter, and plan for a long first rise.

Flour choice: 

  • I’ve been using King Arthur Flour’s special patent flour — bought a 50-lb. bag of it at Restaurant Depot. Its protein content, 12.7%, is the same as the protein content of its bread flour. I also have used all-purpose flour (11.7%) with success, but I recommend bread flour, which seems to be more reliable for people especially those living in humid climates. If you only have ap flour on hand, you may consider reducing the water a bit — bread flour absorbs slightly more liquid than all-purpose flour.

Ingredients

  • 50 g – 100 g (1/4 to 1/2 cup) active starter, see notes above
  • 10 g (about 2.5 teaspoons) kosher salt
  • 430440 g water, room temperature, see notes above*
  • 512 g (about 4 cups) bread flour, see notes above
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • Nice, flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Instructions

  1. Place the starter, salt, and water in a large bowl. Stir with a spatula to combine — it doesn’t have to be uniformly mixed. Add the flour. Mix again until the flour is completely incorporated.
  2. If time permits, perform one “fold”: 30 minutes after you mix the dough, reach into the bowl and pull the dough up and into the center. Turn the bowl quarter turns and continue this pulling 8 to 10 times. See video for guidance.
  3. Drizzle with a splash of olive oil and rub to coat. Cover bowl with a tea towel or bowl cover and set aside to rise at room temperature (70ºF/21ºC) for 4 to 18 hours (the time will vary depending on the time of year, the strength of your starter, and the temperature of your kitchen — in summer, for instance, my sourdoughs double in 6 hours; in winter, they double in 18 hours. Do not use an oven with the light on for the bulk fermentation — it will be too warm. It is best to rely on visual cues (doubling in volume) as opposed to time to determine when the bulk fermentation is done. A straight-sided vessel makes monitoring the bulk fermentation especially easy because it allows you to see when your dough has truly doubled.).
  4. When dough has doubled, place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 9×13-inch pan. (I have been using this USA Pan, which I love. I have had no sticking issues. If you are using a glass pan, you may, as a precaution, want to butter it it first — I have had disasters with bread sticking when I’ve used oil alone with other baking vessels.)
  5. Drizzle dough with a tablespoon of olive oil. Use your hand to gently deflate the dough and release it from the sides of the bowl. Gently scoop the dough into the center of the pool of oil in your prepared pan. Fold dough envelope style from top to bottom and side to side to create a rough rectangle. Turn dough over so seam-side is down.  Video guidance here
  6. Rub top of dough with oil. Leave alone for 4 to 6 hours, uncovered, or until puffy and nearly doubled.
  7. Heat oven to 425ºF. Rub hands lightly with oil, and using all ten fingers, press gently into the dough to dimple and stretch the dough to nearly fit the pan. Sprinkle generously with sea salt. Transfer pan to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until golden all around. Remove pan from oven and transfer bread to a cooling rack. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing.
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: sourdough, bread, focaccia, simple