This simple Italian bread is made using sourdough starter, which enhances the flavours often found in focaccia – olive oil, sea salt and herbs – and lends its leavening capability nicely. I’ll be honest with you: I don’t care for focaccia that’s topped with a lot of stuff. I like my focaccia to be a simple, herb-filled bread with the emphasis on the salt and olive oil.
For this recipe you are going to need an active sourdough starter. If you already have a live and healthy sourdough starter in the refrigerator, take it out atleast twenty four hours before making the focaccia and feed at least one time to get it active and bubbly. If you do not have an active starter, its quite easy to make. I’d recommend you prepare the starter at least five days before making this sourdough focaccia recipe. If your house is cold it may take longer to get a starter going. You will need to keep your starter in a very warm place like on top of the refrigerator or in the kitchen on top of your stove. The yeast needs warmth to develop. On the other hand, if you are short for time and want to prepare this quickly, you can substitute the starter for two teaspoons of active dry yeast.
When it comes to the time needed to knead the dough, you can read a hundred recipes giving you the amount of time to knead the dough but a recipe can not show you or teach you how a properly kneaded batch of dough should look or feel. The only way to learn is to get your hands into a batch of dough and knead it yourself. When you stretch the dough a ‘windowpane effect‘ should be visible – the dough shouldn’t break when you stretch it – this means the gluten has developed well and your dough is ready to rise. You should also keep in mind that there are many factors that come into play when you are making homemade bread. The type of flour used, the amount of humidity in the air and the temperature in your kitchen will affect dough.
rosemary + sea salt sourdough focaccia
- three hundred and twenty grams of sourdough starter
- three hundred and twenty grams of warm water
- six tablespoons of olive oil
- one tablespoon of sea salt
- six hundred and fifty grams of flour
- fresh or dried rosemary, for topping
- one tablespoon of honey, optional
To make the dough: combine the sourdough starter, water, and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large mixing bowl.
Stir in the salt, flour and honey if using. Mix until a sticky dough begins to form.
Pour the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic. If you're using a stand mixer, this should take around six to eight minutes on the lowest speed using the dough hook attachment. If you're kneading by hand, you'll need fifteen to twenty minutes depending on your strength or energy.
Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil, cover, and allow to rise for two hours.
Once it's risen, gently fold the dough over, knocking back any air pockets in the dough.
In a sheet baking pan, drizzle another two tablespoons of olive oil , transfer the dough to the pan, and turn it over to coat it with oil.
Gently stretch the dough into the edges and corners of the pan. As soon as the dough begins to shrink back, cover it and let it rest for about ten minutes. and then gently stretch the dough again until the dough fills the pan.
Cover the pan and leave it to ferment for twelve to fourteen hours in the refrigerator (preferably overnight).
Preheat oven to 190°C. Remove the pan with the dough from the refrigerator at least twenty minutes before baking it.
Just before you're ready to bake, gently dimple the dough with your fingers. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and finally sprinkle with the rosemary and sea salt.
Bake the focaccia for twenty to twenty five minutes, or until light golden brown.
Remove the focaccia from the oven and allow to cool before serving.