My big boy Donatello is a little over 1 1/2 years old.
He’s my ‘pet’ sourdough starter. Come January, we’ll have been ‘together’ for two years. I keep him in a large sealable mason jar and feed him about once every week on a strict diet of bread flour and water, with an occasional whole wheat flour ‘booster’.
It was a bit of a rough start with us to get him going, but I’m pleased to say that we’re in a really great place now. He doesn’t require nearly as much attention and ‘feedings’ as he did in the beginning, and he’s given me lots of good eats and even more excuses to try out new recipes that almost always end up here as another post to share with all of you.
Focaccia is one of those things that have been of my Baking Bucket List for years, but I just never got around to it, for no particular good reason. So far as breads go, it’s definitely one of the easier ones to make, it just takes a little bit of time.
Focaccia is flat leavened Italian bread that’s often either served as an accompaniment to cheese, olive oil or gourmet charcuterie boards. I can also attest that it’s amazing toasted and used as a sandwich bread. I’ve also been to some Midwestern-style pizza places that use focaccia as their dough (yes, it’s delicious).
There are very few bread recipes that can’t incorporate (or be improved by) sourdough starter. Focaccia is the latest on a rapidly growing list of sourdough recipes on the blog (see here, here, here, here and here) that I’m sharing today.
The most difficult part of making this focaccia is the wait. The dough gets an hour proof after it comes together, and then after it’s spread out into the pan, it gets an overnight rest in the fridge before finally being finished off the next day. For this reason, I actually made mine on a Friday evening and on Saturday morning, I had a beautiful pan of focaccia to enjoy.
Because I really wanted the sourdough to be the star flavor, I kept the toppings for this very simple; just dried rosemary and flaked sea salt. You can feel free to add a little bit more extra though: sundried tomatoes, cheese, spinach, olives. It’s your world.
Let me tell you guys: this bread made the BEST vehicle for a deli sandwich. It’s also just as good eaten all on its own when toasted and smeared with buttery herb/garlic spread. 10/10, no notes.
- 1 1/2 cups ripe (fed) sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 cups, plus 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 6 cups Bread Flour
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for the pan and the top of the focaccia
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- fresh rosemary or dried rosemary, and coarse flaked sea salt for topping
In a small bowl pour the 1/4 cup of water. Sprinkle the white sugar over it and allow to proof for ten minutes, until frothy.
Combine the flour with the starter, remaining water, and the remaining ingredients (except for the toppings)
Mix and knead — by hand, standing or handheld mixer with dough hook — until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a bowl that’s been lightly coated with olive oil, cover, and allow to rise for 60 minutes.
Drizzle a generous 2 tablespoons olive oil into the center of a large rimmed baking sheet (a half sheet pan).
Transfer the dough to the pan, and turn it over to coat it with the oil.
Gently stretch the dough into the edges and corners of the pan. As soon as the dough begins to shrink back, cover it, and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Gently stretch the dough again, repeating the rest once more, if necessary, until the dough fills the pan.
Cover the pan and transfer it to the refrigerator to let the dough rise for 14 to 16 hours (overnight).
The next day, remove the pan of dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 425°F for 30 minutes (if your kitchen is warm) to 60 minutes (in a cooler kitchen)
Just before you’re ready to bake, gently dimple the dough at irregular intervals with your fingers, pressing down firmly but not too hard. (You don’t want to deflate it altogether)
Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil (or enough to collect a bit in the dimples), then sprinkle with rosemary and a bit of flaked sea salt.
Bake the focaccia for 20 to 25 minutes, until light golden brown.
Remove the focaccia from the oven. Allow it to cool enough for you to handle it comfortably, 10 to 15 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.