Sourdough focaccia is particularly delicious in it’s own right, but it’s also a great alternative bread to make while commercial yeast is hard to get hold of, like it is at present. I adapted this from our head baker Chris Holister’s recipe to hopefully (!) make it foolproof for amateur home bakers like myself.
Chris’s original recipe only requires 90g of starter and two turn and folds of the dough, so if you are making a large batch of dough or are an experienced baker like Chris you may find this is all you need. I found my focaccia was not rising as much I would like and that my dough needed more time, so for this home baker’s version I have increased the amount of sourdough starter for an extra boost and also given the dough a bit more time to prove with a third turn and fold. Adapt it to what works best for you, and the temperature of the day – you may find on a hot day your dough ferments a lot faster and vice versa.
You can substitute a strong white bread flour for the type 00 or ciabatta flour if you need to.
Drizzle with extra olive oil and enjoy with some olives, maybe some cheese, salami, and a glass of wine over the weekend.
The evening before you want to bake, feed your starter to ensure it is very active and bubbly for the following morning.
The next day, weigh all your ingredients into a large bowl, except for the oil and salt.
Mix well then cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.
Next, add the salt and work well into the dough.
Place the dough back in the bowl, cover, and prove for 1 hour in a warm place.
Add half the olive oil and fold into the dough. To do this, imagine 4 sides. Fold the right side to the left, the left to the right, top to bottom, bottom to top.
Prove for another hour, then add the rest of the olive oil and repeat the folding process.
Leave to prove for one remaining hour with one further fold. The dough should be looking pillowy and bubbly. If it doesn’t, give it a little more time.
Lightly oil a roasting tray with sides and gently pour the dough in. Drizzle with some more oil then gently stretch the dough to fill the tray. Leave for 30 minutes.
Stretch it out again if needed and sprinkle with flaked salt and any other toppings such as rosemary, olives, sun dried tomatoes, whatever you choose. Prod holes deep into the dough using your fingers. You can make these pretty deep, as even though it is a flatbread, it will still rise due to the wild yeast.
Bake in a hot oven at 250°C for 20-30 minutes until baked through. Keep an eye on the dough, and if it is colouring too fast turn the oven down a little. Leave to cool on a wire rack.