The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Any tips for making a high hydration focaccia recipe?

Devoyniche's picture

Any tips for making a high hydration focaccia recipe?

I am trying to recreate this focaccia I had a year or so ago at an Italian restaurant in my town. I want to say it was fairly tall but with a super cavernous open crumb, you would tear a piece in half and it would have these "peaks and valleys" in the crumb and when you dipped it in oil, the peaks would soak up the oil so it wouldn't get too oily and it was great. It may have been like a soft ciabatta or something, but it had a yellow cast hue, and was decently chewy and didn't have a tough crust. The crumb structure makes me think it was a sourdough or had a really long, undisturbed rising period.

All that said, couldn't I just take a formula that already has a high hydration, maybe up the hydration a bit more to like 80%, stretch and fold it 1 or 2 times over a couple hours bulk ferment, then throw it in a pan, stretch it out to the size of the pan and then just let it rise in the fridge over night? I was looking at maybe tweaking the Tartine English muffin formula, which is itself a baguette dough that you do just knead a few times, stretch out and let rise before cutting the muffins and cooking them.

davidg618's picture

You don't have to go to extremely wet doughs to get open crumb, unless you're looking for a bread that is mostly air. And there's not a lot of flavor in a hole.

I make focaccia--commercial yeast or sourdough versions--routinely at 72% hydration. I contend the open crumb is primarily due to two factors in the process: 1) adequate gluten development, and 2) 12 to 16 hours bulk development at cool (54°F) not refrigerator cold (38°F-40°F). Proper dough handling is also a lesser factor, but important. A "velvet fist" is worth developing.

For the focaccia I turn the cool dough out directly onto a parchment-lined half-sheet pan, de-gas, shape, brush lightly with olive oil, cover and let proof. I generally proof lean doughs in a home-made proof box @ 82°F.

I set DDT at 54°F from for the mix using ice water. Zero-hour begins with mixing. I hydrate the dough, minus its salt and oil, for one hour in the refrigerator. Subsequently, I machine knead (KA Pro 600, spiral hook) the dough for 2 minutes on speed 1 to incorporate the salt and oil, then 7 minutes on speed 2. I return the dough to the refrigerator and rest for 1 hour. Following I perform 3 or 4 S&F at one hour intervals. During these early hours of the fermentation I monitor the dough's temperature. If its temperature is above DDT, I rest it in the refrigerator. If its temperature is at or below DDT I rest it in my wine cooler (54°F). Usually, the dough is at first a little high, but reaches DDT after the 2nd or 3rd S&F. The final number of S&F is determined, subjectively, by how the dough feels.

The remainder of the bulk fermentation takes place in the wine cooler; I usually go for 16 hours, monitoring the dough's volume during the last two hours. With both the yeast and sourdough versions the volume triples.

I use this technique for all the lean-dough breads I make, e.g. sourdough, baguette, focaccia, and ciabatta. they range in hydration from 67% to 75%.

Happy baking,

David G


dabrownman's picture

bookmarked on TFL and made by Fresh Lofians  - It's italian too and makes great ciabatta.