Sounds fancy, looks fancy, tastes fantastic and is actually a lot easier to make / bake than you'd think! Like most of our recipes with fluffy results, we want to use a very active starter! Therefore, feeding the starter culture before preparing this dough is essential.
I have liked to follow a high gluten recipe for really fluffy and bubbly crust. To me, focaccia is a glorified pizza crust without the burnt edges. You can really top the flat dough with all sorts of goodies. Olive oil & salt are the main toppings, and beyond these...the sky is the limit!
Focaccia Topping Ideas:
Herbs: rosemary, basil, sage, thyme...
Veggies: tomatoes (cheery are the best), peppers (slices), carrots, onions, garlic, thinly sliced potatoes...
Extras: feta, olives, pickled veggies, nettle seeds, plantain seeds... you tell me!
This is a recipe made to make in one day - prep in the morning and bake in the evening. With the forgiveness of the slow rising in the fridge, you can even delay the baking time over to the next day.
- 130g active sourdough starter (fed with white wheat flour for the biggest bubbles - 100% hydration - i.e. 1:1 flour:water)
- 450g water
- 11g salt
- 600 g white wheat flour (Type 550 or 405)
- 20g extra virgin olive oil
You can certainly use a dough mixer for this part of the process, but i ended up being old-fashion and using just my hand. The dough is very wet (high hydration) and will be very sticky, but very fun to play with and learn how to deal with higher hydration loaves.
In a bowl, mix the sourdough starter and water (lukewarm) together into one consistency. Add flour, water and salt (hold back the olive oil until later in mixing) and mix for 2-3 mins.
Let the dough rest and do a mini autolyse for 10 minutes.
Then, as well as you can one handed, slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while mixing - or do as I did and add in small installments. Mix for a good song or two. This helps the gluten (stretchy protein) build up in the dough and is not a bad arm workout either!
For two hours let the dough sit in its bowl. Over the two hours give the dough some stretching and folding, approx. every 30 mins.
Pan & Proof
Usually I have shaping and proofing in mind, but here the shaping happens loosely and organically in the wide pan. Liberally oil a baking pan. I used the one that was in my oven, which made a thinner focaccia. use a rectangle pan for a higher fluffier focaccia. Gently scrape out the dough into the pan and feel free to guide the dough towards the corners and edges. This will happen naturally over the next 4 hour proofing period, so don't stretch too hard that the dough breaks.
About 30 minutes before the end of the 4-hour proof period, preheat your oven to 225°C (440°F ).
Top & Bake
When your oven is preheated, dimple the top of the dough all over with wet or oily fingers. Drizzle on olive oil to cover the surface of the dough and go wild with the toppings. Place the baking tray on the lower third of the oven. Bake until golden on the top and bottom, about 30 minutes.
Overnight fridge proofing option: If you feel you won't have time for that longer 4 hour proof, or want to wait until the next day, place a bag or wet cloth over the focaccia and put in the fridge after 2 hours of room temperature rising and the rest will happen in cooler temperatures. The next day, check on the rising and either bake right away or allow the dough to rise some more at room temperature.