Updated: Oct 17, 2021
One of the many reasons why sourdough Focaccia are my preference to commercial yeast based Focaccias are the depth of flavor that this fermented dough brings. Though the time to prepare this sourdough bread takes is lenghty but it does not require you to be working on the dough the whole duration as majority of the preparation are resting periods, which means you can start preparing it, move on to your busy daily errands, and come back to do a few stretch and folds in between and leave it to bulk proof until you are ready to bake.
Focaccia bread is also very versatile. You can use it for different type of applications such as using it as a sandwich bread, serve with soups and dip them in sauces or balsamic vinegar or simply enjoy them on its own.
Yield: 1 x Sheet Focaccia
Baking Pan: 300mm Length x 220mm Width x 35mm Depth
Duration: 1 or 2 Days
The recipe below can be baked on the same day or be left in the fridge overnight for baking in the next morning. You will need to plan the schedule to suit you.
60 g Ripe Sourdough Starter
60 g Water 24°C
60 g White Baker's Flour
375 g "oo" Flour
125 g Whole Wheat Baker's Flour
420 g Water at 35°C
130 g Levain (Ripe)
10 g Fine Salt
10 g Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus extra for brushing
Note: If you are unable to find "oo" Flour, simply use plain flour but the texture will be slightly different.
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Note: The below workflow is for baking the Focaccia the next morning. If you wish to have the Focaccia by dinner time, plan to start preparing the Levain the night before with 30 g starter: 60 g Water : 90 g Flour ratio and proceed to preparing the dough early in the next morning.
12 pm Prepare Levain.
Mix all the Levain ingredients together until well combined and place in a clean jar. Tie a rubber band around the jar level with the Levain to monitor the activity. Store the jar in the warmest place in your kitchen at room temperature. The Levain takes around 5 to 6 hours to double in volume and be active to use.
Note: Levain with a 1:2:3 (Starter: Water: Flour) ratio will usually take around 12 to 14 hours before it is ready.
4:30 pm Test the readiness of the Levain by gently scooping some and dropping into a bowl of water. If it floats above water, it is ready.
Place all the flours in the bowl then add in the water and mix to combine. Add in the required Levain, salt and extra virgin olive oil. Mix until well incorporated and there are no dry lumps of flour present.
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or a plastic and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
5 pm Perform the First Stretch and Fold. Dip your hand in some water to avoid sticking. Cover and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
5:30 Perform the Second Stretch and Fold. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
6 pm Perform the Third and final stretch and fold. Cover and leave at room temperature for the remaining bulk fermentation for 2 hours or until the dough starts increase in volume and is very light and airy.
8 pm Shape and retard the dough. Lightly oil a deep baking tray. Transfer the focaccia on to it. Drizzle more olive oil and rub on top of the dough. Gently stretch the dough out from the centre outwards with your fingertips by pressing and stretching until it fully fits the baking tray. Leave the dough covered for an hour to two hours at room temperature, then place it in the fridge to retard for baking the next morning. The dough should have risen slightly with signs of air before you place it in the fridge to retard.
(If you do not have a deep tray like myself, create a cover with an aluminium foil that has been lightly greased to prevent the dough from sticking and gently place the foil on top of the tray, tucking the sides but with the top with enough space from the tray to allow the dough to rise.
Note: If your dough is particularly resistance and you find it hard to stretch the dough without it shrinking right back, simply stretch the dough half way, cover then rest for 20 minutes and continue stretching until it fits the tray. You shouldn't need to stretch the dough more than 2 times. Only do the stretching in the first hour of the final proofing time to avoid knocking too much air from the dough so that the dough has enough time to create more air pockets in the dough again before baking.
The next morning.....
6 am The next morning, remove the Focaccia from the fridge to bring it to room temperature an hour prior to baking.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C for an hour.
7 am Gently remove the cling film on top. Press the sundried tomatoes into the dough then sprinkle with some oiled basil leaves. Using your finger tip, lightly indent the empty space on the dough. Finally, sprinkle some sesame seed and feta cheese.
Bake the Focaccia in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the bread, then turn down the heat to 180°C and baker further for another 20 minutes.
Once baked, remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool slightly in the pan before lifting the bread from the tray onto a wire rack to cool.
Slice and serve!
If you are wishing to bake the Focaccia on the same day, you will need to time your work flow plan to starting earlier or the night before.
After spreading the dough onto the oiled tray, cover the dough and let it sit at room temperature to final proof. This process takes roughly around 3 to 4 hours until it becomes light and bubbly. Depending on the ambient of your kitchen, time can be shorter or longer. When the dough looks lively with an obvious rise in volume with lots of air bubble, it is ready to be baked!
Note: Ensure that you preheat the oven one hour prior to the anticipated time that the dough will be ready. A really hot oven will give the Focaccia that kick for a better oven spring.
Leftover baked Focaccia can be wrapped with cling film and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. Simply place in the oven to re heat before serving.
Alternatively you can also wrap the focaccia well with cling film and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the bread at room temperature before reheating them in the oven.
Please refer to note for thorough instructions