Sourdough Focaccia Bread

22 April 2009

Focaccia Bread - Day 1I decided it was time I learned how to make focaccia bread. I’d had it perhaps once before, sometime around a decade ago, and the memory is rather hazy, so I’m not really intimately familiar with the end result I should be aiming for. Ah, yes, the fun. 🙂

But, you know, what else is a girl to do?

So I hunted for a recipe that looked like it could work and found this one. Naturally, because I am nothing if not me, and that means anal with definite OCD tendencies, I converted the recipe to weight. Naturally, whenever any such conversions are done, especially when flour is one of those things being converted, the amount is really nothing more than an estimation. It probably would have helped, though, if I’d looked for (and found) a hint as to what they hydration of the dough should be. But that’s for another tangent another day. 😀

Also, because it’s just Fahim and I and he may or may not like my bread (he’s a rice person, not a bread person, so this is iffy at best), I halved the recipe. Seemed like the thing to do. 🙂

Sourdough Focaccia Bread

Combine the following ingredients to form a sponge:

  • 195 grams (3/4 cup) sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 125 grams or ml (1/2 cup) warm water
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • 10 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) honey
  • 50 grams (1/2 cup) flour

Allow sponge to ferment and bubble for about an hour until bubbles of differing size are on top.

focaccia bread - sponge

Add to sponge:

  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 200 grams (2 cups) flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Mix all ingredients together. Let rest for 15-20 minutes to allow dough to autolyse (meaning let the flour absorb the moisture). Then knead for 10 strokes and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Then knead for 10 strokes and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Repeat for a total of 4 kneading sessions.

The dough will be soft and slightly moist from the oil and the kneading.

Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours (depending on how active your starter is and room temperatures).

Focaccia Bread - dough in pan, day 1Use a rimmed baking dish (I used a 9″x9″ square cake pan), add 25 grams (2 tablespoons) to the pan and spread over the bottom and sides of the dish.

Put dough in pan and press dough until it fills the pan. Don’t worry if it doesn’t reach the corners perfectly. If the dough is elastic and pulls away, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes. If it’s still too elastic, allow it to rest some more. Then continue pressing the dough until it fills the pan.

Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about an hour or so.

Preheat oven to 232 C / 450 F / gas mark 8.

When dough has doubled, lightly dock dough, leaving impressions at least every other inch. If the dough is a little dry on top, brush on a bit more extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool in its pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it or eating it – the bread is still cooking even though it’s out of the oven.

Eat immediately or within a couple of days. Tastes best warm.

I was in a hurry when I made this. I started way way way way too late in the day, considering I’d planned on having this bread for dinner. In the end, I took shortcuts. Severe shortcuts. Shortcuts I would not recommend.

I skipped the first rise entirely, tossing the dough directly into my silicone baking pan after the fourth kneading session and shaped it. Then I only had time for a short rise – perhaps an hour when it really should have had two or so hours – and it had barely increased in volume maybe, oh, 25%. Then I tossed it in the oven.

But ho boy! Did that focaccia bread have massive oven spring or what? It more than doubled in volume in the oven! Okay, it might have helped that I turned the oven on to gas mark 8 out of a theoretical 10 in an oven with a broken gas regulator, so who knows how hot the oven actually is. Yes, I live on the edge. 😀 And no, oven thermometers don’t exist here. That I know of. I gotta remember to add that to my wish list…

Then, after removing from the oven, I allowed it a generous minute or two before I hacked into it. *cough*

Did I mention I started severely late?

Did I mention that we usually eat dinner around 6:30-7pm? And it was now going on 8pm? And we’re normally in bed by 9pm? And I was hungry?

I was hungry!

So hack into it I did, with a pot holder in the left hand to hold the bread and knife in the other, I sliced that bad boy open. Then topped it with my New Wave Garlic Bread variant ingredients – no cilantro, sadly, and cilantro makes a huge difference, and not the right sambal oelik, but the only sambal oelik that was close enough to resemble somewhat suitable. When I do my New Wave Garlic Bread properly, I’ll post the recipe, but not when it’s a variation that just isn’t quite the same.

Focaccia Bread - New Wave Garlic Bread variantAnd back into the oven it went to melt cheese and for the butter, garlic, and sambal oelik to soak into the bread. And then we ate.

The bread had a cake-like texture with crispy – sort of like deep-fried crispy – crust. Not French bread crispy. Thin flaky crispy. I loved it. 😀 Our friend Sona, who’d come over for other reasons but stayed for dinner, loved it. 😀 Fahim didn’t like it. 🙁

I wasn’t sure if Fahim didn’t like it because of the differences that a lack of full rises will make. So the next day, I made it again, but this time, with full rise times.

Focaccia Bread - dough, day 2 Focaccia Bread - day 2 And surprise, surprise! The bread turned out exactly the same. My shortcuts, oddly enough, made absolutely zero difference to the appearance, taste, and texture of the bread.


Uh, it’s not supposed to work that way, is it?

At any rate, as I mused, I realized that the cake-like texture and the crispiness of the crust is all due to the huge oil content in this version. And while this version of focaccia is something I enjoy, it’s really

better if I can find something that works for both of us. So I continue the search for the winning focaccia bread – winning for both of us, not just me. 🙂

That, and olive oil is so very expensive here, so this bread becomes very expensive to make. On the magnitude of many times more expensive than pretty much any other bread I’ve ever made. Cheaper would be better. 😀

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2 Responses

  1. #1

    Not sure you read comments left years after posting a recipe, but I wanted to let you know I’ve made your focaccia a couple of days ago and it turned out great!

    I will be blogging about it soon, and will send you a link, in case you are interested…

    Happy Holidays!

  2. #2

    I read all comments, regardless of how old the recipe is. And all comments are welcome. 🙂

    Glad to hear yours turned out great. Yes, please do post a link. I’d love to read about it. 🙂

    Happy holidays!

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About LMAshton

Howdy and welcome to my site! I'm Laurie and I'll be your, er, hostess today. :)

I'm a Canadian expat currently living in Singapore. I'm married to a Sri Lankan and lived in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade. We also lived in New Zealand for half a year.

I cook Sri Lankan curries, sambols, and mallungs. I bake bread using wild yeast (sourdough that isn't sour). I bake on the stove. I experiment with Indian / Malaysian / Indonesian / Thai / whatever cuisines interest me. And I experiment wildly.

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