I love to make AND of course EAT focaccia bread. For those of you that don’t know, focaccia is a traditional Italian bread… It has a higher oil content than most bread recipes and is usually baked after being flattened out in a baking tray and showered with extra virgin olive oil, In a no-fuss kinda way, (so Italian) 😀 … the result is a spongey, crispy, and rather unique kind of bread.

My first job as a chef was at Jamie Olivers Fifteen London, so from the beginning of my career as a chef I was accustomed to nibbling on amazing leftover focaccia at the end of service or for staff lunch!

Up until around 6 months ago I had made plenty of yeast focaccia, but never tried it with sourdough instead. My first few attempts at sourdough focaccia were okay, however they lacked that spongey, light consistency that I was able to achieve making yeast focaccia, so I gave in and moved onto some other obsession! hehehe

So…. about 1 month ago I tried again with a new sourdough focaccia recipe as a template and I’ve been tweaking it ever since to make it how I want it, I am now finally ready and happy to share my recipe, fresh out the kitchen!

Below you can see a kind of step by step photo guide to give you more of an idea of the process.

The flour mix – 75% strong white 25% wholemeal

Extra virgin olive oil, salt, sugar, water – mixed together.

What the dough looks like after mixing BEFORE the autolysis.

After the autolysis- in goes the bubbly sourdough starter

After mixing in the starter and kneading the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes.

I’ve transfered the dough to my ‘baking tray’ which is actually a cast iron skillet.

Hours later, the dough is bubbly on the surface and VERY soft and airy, this photo was taken minutes before the oven! 😛

Spongey, crispy and rich.

Recipe

325g strong white flour
75g whole wheat flour
300ml warm water
50g olive oil  + 2 tbsp for the baking tray
150g active (bubbly) sourdough starter
10g salt
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)

To top before baking

Salt flakes (I use Maldon Sea Salt)
Cherry tomatoes (cut in halves)
Fresh rosemary (roughly chopped)

1. Mix the salt, sugar, oil and water in a jar. Give it a stir to help the salt and sugar dissolve.

2. Add the water mix to the flour and mix until well combined. Leave it, covered with a cloth for an hour, this process is called autolysis.

3. Knead the dough in the bowl, alternatively you can knead it on a table or workbench. If the dough seems to wet to knead then try the slap and fold method. This process activates the gluten to develop strength in the dough.

4. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil into your baking tray (I used a cast iron skillet) and transfer the kneaded dough into it, pour another 1 tbsp of oil in top of the dough and rub it in slightly.

5. Perform a first stretch and fold (see video). Repeat this process every 30 minutes, so you will have stretched and folded the dough 4 times after two hours.

6. After the two hours is up leave the dough covered for the final prove, depending on the temperature of your environment this should take between 1.5 to 3 hours.

7. The dough should be nice and puffy and have some bubbles on the surface, its ready for the oven.

8. Place your fingers in water and press into the dough to form holes, top with sea salt flakes, chopped rosemary and a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Cherry tomatoes are also a great topping choice!

9. Preheat oven to 250°C for about 20 minutes, you want it to be nice and hot. Cook the focaccia for 11 minutes and then a further 12-15 minutes at 220°C. Take the bread out and brush it with a final layer of olive oil (YES, MORE OLIVE OIL!!!!) to give it a nice shine! Leave to cool for 15 minutes and then place onto a rack for a remaining 45 minutes or so.

Focaccia is best when left to cool down for about an hour, so see if you can avoid the temptation to dig in straight away!

Enjoy!

Viola!