I’ve learned how to bake my own sourdough bread 4 years ago and it was life changing.
I was so charmed by it I didn’t want to try anything else. I kept thinking that if I fail, I will ruin the sourdough magic process in my head.
Last year I tried a sourdough focaccia when I was left with more than 150 g of leaven and didn’t want to throw that much.
I’ve searched online and through my Tartine Bread book but all the recipes had too many steps, and I wasn’t in the mood for strictly following a new 24 h process recipe.
But I found an opportunity to play with this and promised myself I won’t be sad if it fails. I would know it was all my fault because I didn’t follow a precise recipe, right?
The process was still a bit long, as all sourdough processes are, but far more simple.
There are not stretching the dough steps, no cool proof or bench rests.
So you can start making it early in the morning with only an autolyse, a 10 minute knead and then forget about it in a warm place (while it will triple in size).
After 5 to 6 hours, you can take it out, shape it into the (olive oil) tray and while you prep your toppings, leave it to rise just as you prep.
Generously oil your hands and dimple the dough with your fingers until you reach the bottom of the pan (but be careful not to pierce the dough). Drizzle more olive oil, add the toppings and bake.
By the half of its baking time, me and my man noticed the smell: crisp, fresh and like nothing I've ever baked until then. When I took it out of the oven, the focaccia looked so well done. It was full of big and small bubbles, yello-ish in colour, caramelized and browned at the corners. I was jumping around all over. But the real mind blow was when I tasted it. Oh man, the taste and texture was like nothing I’ve ever had before and better than I have ever imagined. It was like your first good sourdough bread but X 10 better. I didn’t expect such a cheesy flavour, fluffy, airy, soft crumb and such sweet taste.
At that point I didn't think too much of the toppings, but I am happy I choose the rosemary and Maldon sea salt flakes. Usually I would have chosen an acidic component like olives, tomatoes or capers just because they go well and they are on my taste profile.
But I can now see why they are a classic. It’s a perfect pairing. For me, the rosemary pumps up the cheese like flavour of the focaccia and makes it perfect as it is.
Even now, I enjoy it better on its own; no sandwiches, no appetizers no nothing. I think this one is best consumed as a snack, on its own and maybe (just maybe) with a good fermented fresh and ice cold yogurt.
Other toppings are nice too. Try these:
Tomatoes and rosemary
Olives and onion
Onion and Maldon sea salt
Grapes or figs
Peach and thyme
Garlic and herbs
Vegan, Plant-based, Soy-free
Makes 1 small/medium baking tray
Total time: 6-7 hours
250 g all purpose flour
100 g ready to use sourdough
140 g filtered water, room temperature
4 g sea salt
14 g brown sugar
20 g extra virgin olive oil + more to finish
In a clean bowl, add water and sourdough starter. Dissolve using a spatula or your hand.
Add the flour, sea salt, sugar and EVOO.
Knead for about 10 minutes.
Leave to proof 2 hours in a warm place (I use my oven, just with the light on)
Place the dough in the refrigerator and leave to cold proof for at least 12 h or maximum 16 h.
Take out of the fridge and leave to room temperature for 2 h.
If you want to skip the cold proof, after kneading, just leave the dough to rise in a warm place for about 5-6 hours.
Prepare a tray with lots of olive oil ( I usually add around 3 tbsp for a normal oven tray)
Flip the bowl upside down and let the dough fall out.
Gently spread the dough on the entire surface of the tray . It should be 2-3 cm thick.
Leave to proof 20-30 for mins and then generously splash with olive oil. Using your fingers make a bunch of focaccia style holes on the surface.
Sprinkle with dried rosemary and sea salt flakes.
Bake at 250 degrees C until browned (about 15-20 mins)
Tips: You can use this dough for pizza too. Perfetto!
I highly recommend you to try this version of focaccia dough if you already have a sourdough starter. It is far better than the yeast focaccia and so much more exquisite than sourdough bread.
What is your experience with this Italian bread? How do you like to eat it?
If you don’t have your sourdough starter, would you be interested in a step by step post on how to make it?