Focaccia Sourdough Bread—My New Obsession

Focaccia Sourdough Bread—My New Obsession

I had just joined Taste of Home’s Bakeable group when I saw Robin Servetter’s‎ reposted “Easy Herbed Foccacia Bread.” Funny thing how something like that can inspire you, but I had a batch of sourdough baguette bread dough ready to shape, so I just adapted it with ingredients I had on hand to try out a Focaccia.

Robin’s version came from a site entitled Oh, Sweet Basil, a site dedicated family and food. It’s authors, Cade and Carrian explained: “Focaccia bread is a flat oven-baked yeast bread that originated in Italy and is pronounced ‘fuh-KA-cha.’ It is traditionally topped with fresh herbs, such as rosemary, and coarse salt, but it is a very versatile bread that can be altered to your liking. I’ve even seen it with raisins in it and topped with sugar or honey to make a sweet dessert bread. Yum!” They offered an encouraging and very simple yeasted recipe. 

Since I only use sourdough starter as leavening, I began a search for a 100% sourdough Focaccia and found it at The Perfect Loaf where Maurizio Leo talked of his inspiration from a visit to Southern Italy.

Focaccia Sourdough Bread—My New Obsession

A Simple Focaccia from @theperfectloaf

One day, heading to the beach, his family needed supplies. “The few, yet crucial, stops along the way had a single purpose: to fill our sacks with baked goods meant to sustain our time away. My favorite among these,” he wrote, “by a long measure, was a simple focaccia.

“With hardly a second thought, we’d buy several full sheet trays of the golden bread. The baker would cut the thick slabs into manageable pieces and wrap the entire thing in white paper, sealed shut with a shiny sticker — conceivably an attempt to elevate the humble, yet utterly otherworldly, snack.”

With that description and his own picture of making Focaccia back in his New Mexico home, I was drooling in anticipation of my own creation. Sadly I did not have his favorite toppings of “rosemary, chopped cherry tomatoes, pitted kalamata olives, coarse sea salt,” but I did have a good cold-pressed olive oil on hand and a few other good things, including fresh basil from my herb garden.

Sourdough Dough Focaccia Bread Recipe



Focaccia Dough

  • 4 cups (500g) White Whole-wheat flour (or 70% All-purpose flour and 30% Bread flour, mixed)
  • 2 tsp (10g) extra virgin olive oil and more for oiling the baking pan
  • 1 ⅔ cup (394g) purified water
  • 1½ tsp (9 g) salt
  • 6 Tbl (94 g) Sourdough starter at 100% hydration

  1. Mix the sourdough starter, flour, salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add all but 3 tablespoons (50g) of the water an mix until it is smooth and elastic.
    Do not add the olive oil yet.
    (“This dough can be mixed by hand or in a mechanical mixer, such as a KitchenAid,” Maurizio suggests, but “your dough will strengthen faster in a mixer.”
  3. Once the gluten is developed add water a tablespoon at a time. “The dough should not feel ‘soupy’ or completely fall apart,” cautioned Maurizo, but it will be very loose and wet, he said. If it is getting too sloppy do not add all the water.
  4. Then add the olive oil to the dough mixture and work it for 3-5 minutes or until oil is completely incorporated and the dough comes back together.
  5. Stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes over the next two hours.
  6. Then transfer the dough to a well oiled deep rectangular pan. I lined mine with oiled parchment so that the focaccia didn’t stick during baking.
  7. Maurizio explained: “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.”
  8. Then cover the dough to proof for two more hours undisturbed or place it in the fridge overnight

Topping and Baking Focaccia Bread

  • 1-2 Tbl (15–30g) olive oil
  • Basil, tarragon, oregano, rosemary, or other herbs as you like
  • petite grape tomatoes, black olives, and vegetables as you like
  • 2 tsp (11 g) salt
  • 2–3 Tbl parmesan cheese
  • Focaccia Sourdough Bread—My New Obsession

    Dimpling dough for Focaccia Bread

    Dimple the dough evenly with wet fingers

  • Go all the way to the bottom of the pan.
  • Then, drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the surface of the dough
  • Sprinkle with
    • herbs
    • vegetables
    • cheese
    • coarse sea salt.
  • Bake at 450°F (232°C)  for about 30 minutes or until it is deeply colored on top.
  • Let the bread cool a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. But this is wonderful warm from the oven, and probably best on the day of baking.
Focaccia Sourdough Bread—My New Obsession

My Sourdough Focaccia with a good crumb

My Focaccia turned out great. Family members really loved it. But I really wanted to try the coarse sea salt— I had left my recent purchase at the grocery check stand by accident (ugh I hate getting old). 

Happily, the basil is doing well in our herb garden so I featured it mixed with petite grape tomatoes, black olives, and parmesan cheese, all of which, were on hand.

Maurizio’s recipe also called for a mix of malted high protein bread flour and all-purpose flour, but the shelves at our market were mostly empty when I dropped by yesterday.  So I could not follow his recipe. I do have a good supply of Abigail’s Oven White Whole-wheat flour that has worked better in my baking than any other flour I have used in the past.

Loosely covered, this keeps well for a couple of days, But you may want to reheat it under your broiler a few minutes before serving because it is amazingly good warm. I thought it was so good I want to bake more for Father’s Day when we have the gang over for lasagna.


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