The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My First Sourdough Focaccia

Benito's picture
Benito

My First Sourdough Focaccia

I’ve only made focaccia once before and that was using IDY.  So I decided it was time to use my now trusty starter to make one instead of IDY.  As often the case I went to theperfectloaf.com and followed Maurizio’s recipe to make my first one.  I decided to try loading this up almost like a deep dish pizza.  So I topped with halved cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, stuff green olives, shallots, rosemary, black pepper and pecorino Romano cheese.

From his website I’ll post the formula here for your convenience.

Vitals

Total Dough Weight

1,200 grams

Sourdough Starter

19.00%

Hydration

76.00%

Yield

One 1200g focaccia

Total Formula

This table shows the entire quantity and baker’s percentages for each ingredient. If you’d like to make two large focaccia (or four smaller ones), double everything in the table below.

 

There’s no specific levain build for this focaccia, just use some of your sourdough starter when it’s ripe (when you’d normally give it a refreshment). See my post on the differences between a levain and sourdough starter for more information on the two preferments.

Target final dough temperature (FDT) is 76°F (24°C).

Weight

Ingredient

Baker’s Percentage

423g

All-purpose flour (King Arthur All-Purpose Flour) 11-12% protein

70.00%

181g

High protein bread flour, malted (King Arthur Bread Flour) 13% protein

30.00%

12g

Extra virgin olive oil (Jovial Olio Nuovo Organic Olive Oil)

2.00%

459g

Water

76.00%

11g

Salt

1.80%

115g

Sourdough starter (100% hydration)

19.00%

Method

Mix – 9:00 a.m.

This dough can be mixed by hand (I would use the slap and fold technique) or with a stand mixer like a KitchenAid.

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add both the flours, water, salt, and ripe sourdough starter (hold back the olive oil until later in mixing). 

Mix on speed 1 for 1 to 2 minutes until incorporated. Then, mix on speed 2 for 5 minutes until dough strengthens and clumps around the dough hook. Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 10 minutes.

Next, turn the mixer on to speed 1 and slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while mixing. Once all of the olive oil is absorbed, turn the mixer up to speed 2 for 1 to 2 minutes until the dough comes back together.

Transfer your dough to a bulk fermentation container and cover.

This highly hydrated and enriched dough is  wet and loose , it won’t strengthen to the same degree as a typical bread dough.

As you can see below on the left, immediately after mixing the dough is still very wet and chunky. However, it’s not falling apart or soupy. Resist the temptation to add more flour at this point, as you can see below in the image at the right, by the middle of bulk fermentation it’ll strengthen after several sets of stretch and folds.

 

Transfer the dough to a covered container for bulk fermentation.

 

Bulk Fermentation – 9:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Give the dough 4 sets of stretch and folds, starting 30 minutes after mixing, and a set every 30 minutes thereafter.

Every 30 minutes for the remaining 2 hours of bulk fermentation gently stretch the dough, with wet hands, toward the corners of the rectangular container. The dough will resist stretching and spring back (especially with the oil underneath), but don’t force it—each time you stretch it’ll relax a bit more and eventually fill the container.

 

Proof – 11:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Transfer the dough to a deep rectangular pan that’s been greased with olive oil. If you don’t have a pan with a silicone liner, make sure to heavily oil the pan’s interior so the focaccia doesn’t stick during baking.

At 76-78°F (24-25°C), the dough will proof for 4 hours. This time period is flexible and dependent on the temperature: if it’s cooler, let it proof longer, and conversely, if it’s warm, you might be able to bake sooner.

Every 30 minutes for the first hour, uncover the pan and gently stretch the dough with wet hands to the pan’s edges to encourage it to fill the pan. The dough will naturally spread out during this proofing period, so it’s unnecessary to spread the dough aggressively. Once the dough is mostly spread to the edges, cover the pan and proof for 4 hours.

 

 

Top & Bake – 3:15 p.m.

 

First, dimple the unadorned dough with wet fingers. Make sure the dimples are evenly spaced and go all the way down to the bottom of the pan. Then, drizzle on 1-2 tablespoons of your extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and coarse sea salt. If using other toppings, add them now as well—I like to press them into the dough gently.

Bake the focaccia in the oven at 450°F (232°C) until deeply colored on top, about 30 minutes. Rotate the pan front-to-back halfway through this time. Keep an eye on it during the last 5 minutes and pull it out if it’s coloring too quickly, or leave it in longer if you’d like it a little darker.

 

Let the focaccia cool a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack. It’s fantastic warm from the oven, and best on the day of baking, but it’ll keep well for a couple days loosely wrapped in foil (reheat under the broiler before serving).

 

Comments

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow this is much bigger than I was expecting.  I thought that it would make four servings as the main course for a casual dinner for two with a salad.  A quarter of this monster is much too much even as a main course.  This is 6 servings for dinner.  Very tasty bread, I’m not sure that the pecorino Romano was worthwhile, I am surprised at how little I could taste it despite using half a wedge.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Nice looking fluffy crumb Benny! I followed Maurizio's recipe a couple of times in summer, and got very similar results when using a smaller pan. I think this sort of bread is significantly thicker than what you'd get in Italy, there focaccias tend to be thinner - which you get if you just use a bigger baking pan, but it's delicious either way!

My favourite topping was cherry tomatoes, I don't know what happens to them during baking, but they start tasting absolutely addictive. They like merge together with olive oil and salt, and I guess get caramelized a bit... Heavenly. I also tried red onion, that was really good too! I imagine olives are great if you like olives, which I don't :)

Benito's picture
Benito

Thanks Ilya, I was shocked at how thick this focaccia was.  I’ve never had a focaccia at a bakery anywhere near this thick.  I used the same size pan that Maurizio’s uses in his recipe so wasn’t expecting it to be this thick.  I might try reducing the dough mass next time or use my next size larger pan.  Perhaps make only 900-1000 g dough for the 9x13” pan.

I love the flavour that cherry tomatoes have once roasted, so delicious.  We love olives so love to use them in these types of things.  But we each have our preferences.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Found a pic of mine from August

Interesting it's so thick with the same size pan! Maurizo's pictures show quite a thick focaccia too, but I think not as thick as yours.

I would just make a bigger focaccia, it stores very well, might as well make a lot!

Benito's picture
Benito

That’s true, I’ll have to measure my next size up pan and see if it will fill it well enough.

Benito's picture
Benito

Very nice crumb Ilya, your focaccia is a more usual thickness.

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

My half-Italian girlfriend was a bit shocked even by the thickness of this one! Italian focaccia is normally much thinner. 

BXMurphy's picture
BXMurphy

Good grief, Benny! That's fantastic!

The notes surpass outstanding. It is plain to see that you are prepared to repeat the bake. I admire that.

What i really like, though, is seeing the bread in use. I mean, with all the accompaniments. There is NOTHING better than seeing how bread is being used. It's just delicious. 

The crumb looks nice. Was it chewy?

Murph

Benito's picture
Benito

Thank you Murph.  The olive oil tenderizes the crumb somewhat so it is chewier than a sandwich bread but more tender than a sourdough hearth loaf without any enrichments.  This is super easy and fun to make, give it a go.

Benny

gerhard's picture
gerhard

We have made it with lots of toppings like yours and also with just basil, sea salt, and cheese. The one with fewer toppings can be used to make good sandwiches while the ones with more toppings is a stand-alone item. One of my favourite toppings is sautéed mushrooms with shallots. You gave me an appetite so maybe we will make one this week.

Benito's picture
Benito

Thanks Gerhard, making a focaccia is quite a bit of fun that we can be creative with the toppings or make it super simple too if that’s our mood.  Looking forward to seeing yours this week.

Benny

gerhard's picture
gerhard
Benito's picture
Benito

That looks really delicious Gerhard, I could eat a square of that right now.