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Sourdough Focaccia

Sourdough Focaccia

Sourdough focaccia was the scariest thing for me to make for a long time. It seemed very complex and time consuming. Every baker I know has baked it many times already and shared it on social with their audience. I was still putting it off for later.

But as soon as I started, I realized how easy the process of making sourdough focaccia was, and how delicious was the result I got.

My family loved it. Light as an air crumb with soft thin crust. What else can you wish for?

Sourdough starter (night before)

I always feed starter with 90% all purpose flour and 10% rye. Which makes it nice and strong.

Please note, summertime ratio for overnight feeding is higher (1:10:10) compared to wintertime (1:7:7), because of the temperature difference. Depending on the strength of the starter, you can change the ratio.

Learn how to make starter from scratch here.

Main Dough (next morning)

  • 60g sourdough starter (20%)
  • 300g bread flour (100%)
  • 210g water (70%)
  • 45g extra water will be added during mixing (bassinage)(15%)
  • 9g olive oil (3%)
  • 6g salt (2%)
  • More olive oil for topping
  • Herbs, sea salt and any toppings if your choice.

Directions 

Starter preparation step

Night before

  • 10 pm add starter to the water and whisk together, add flour, mix well, cover loosely, let sit at room temp 70-75F till next morning until it reaches the peak (10-12 hours), it should at least double (starter isn’t strong enough), or triple in size(strong starter).

Focaccia dough preparation steps

Next morning

  • 8 am mix water with flour, cover, let it rest 1 hour for autolyse (during the autolyse stage flour absorbs water, becoming fully hydrated. This activates gluten development).
  • 9 am add sourdough starter. Mix on low speed of your mixing machine for 2-3 min, or KitchenAid on speed 3 for 5-6 min until well incorporated. 
  • 9.30 am add salt ,mix on low speed of your mixing machine for 2-3 min, or KitchenAid on speed 3 for 2-3 min until well incorporated. Add extra water little by little. Increase the speed of your mixing machine.

Note: The process of adding extra water is called bassinage, it helps to tighten up gluten. The dough has to come up together. 

  • At the end of mixing add olive oil.  Mix until well incorporated. Total mixing time shouldn’t take longer then 10-15 minutes.
  • Oil the container with olive oil, transfer the dough into the container, close the lid. 
  • Leave to rest 30 minutes at 74-78F /23-26C.
  • 10:15 am wet your hands and perform 1st stretch and fold.
  • 11:00 am 2nd stretch and fold.
  • 11:45 am 3rd stretch and fold.
  • 12.30 pm 4th stretch and fold.
  • Performing stretches and folds will help to continue gluten development.
  • After the final stretch let the dough rest for 15 minutes. You should see some bubbles on the surface, the dough has to become lighter. We are looking for 30%-40% rise.
  • Close the lid, and put the container in the fridge for cold retard (12-48 hours).

Note: if for some reason the dough didn’t rise enough, add one more stretch and fold.

If the dough seems too proofed, you can shorten the time in between stretches and folds.

Focaccia shaping steps

Next day

  • Remove the dough from the fridge. 
  • Find the baking tray you are going to use. Any iron pan or baking tray works. I was using the The Challenger bread pan.
  • Cover the baking tray with parchment paper, generously sprinkle it with olive oil. 
  • Turn your container in to the oiled surface, spread the dough a little on your baking pan with oiled hands, be gentle. 
  • Cover and let it proof for 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven 450F for 30 minutes.
  • When the dough reached the room temperature, and seems puffy, oil your hands and sprinkle olive oil on top of the dough.
  • Dimple the dough with your fingers, evenly space dimples all over the dough surface.
  • Sprinkle with herbs and sea salt, add any toppings of your choice.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered and without steam until golden brown.
  • Let it cool down for about 1 hour.

Enjoy your sourdough focaccia.

43 thoughts on “Sourdough Focaccia

  1. Thanks for another great recipe Natalya. Am looking forward to giving this a try….

    1. Thank you!
      Please let me know how it will go 🙏

    2. How much extra water do you add for bassinage?

      1. 45g

  2. Can I make this in one day without the cold proof? As my fridge is super unreliable and too warm..:(

    1. Yes, definitely!
      Shape it into a pan, make sure use a lot of olive oil, let it proof covered for 3-4 hours.
      Then follow instructions 🙏

  3. thanks, I’ll try it soon.

    1. Erika, thank you!

  4. I just mixed up starter to pull this together tomorrow and remembered the bowl for my kitchenaid is broken 😩. Do I have to use my mixer?

    1. Sorry to hear that. It will be hard to mix it by hands, hydration is kind of high 🙏

  5. Hi natasha,
    I have a question with regard to your technique in folding, when you do the first fold, do you do the coil fold and fold it in all sides?

    1. Shawn, hi!
      It doesn’t matter how do you fold as long as you are adding strength to the dough.🙏

  6. Hi, do you bake this with the challenger pan lid on or off?

    1. Yes, in challenger pan without lid 🙏

  7. After I added the bassinage, my dough started breaking up. Does that I mean I shouldnt have put all of the extra water in? I ended up adding mour flour cause it didn’t look the same as your photo

    1. The same situation

    2. Same here …any tips about it ?

      1. It is normal for the dough to break up. Mine does too and I mix it by hand because I do not have stand mixer. You should make sure that you mix it well. It will look smoother after the foldings. If it is still not looking good after foldings I guess your flour might be too weak.

  8. Thanks for the recipe!
    Doubt: I’m planning to bake it on the same day. Can I use the same times/degree of proof of the Italian bread recipe?
    Just like with baguettes, is hard for me to know when this second proof (after the cold one) is ready. 😔

  9. Hello can you just give me the size of your backing tray? Thank you so much for all the amazing recipes

    1. Thank you!
      It’s about 9 by 12 inches

  10. Thanks for the great recipe
    My problem i had to leave home for some time so i put the dough in the fridge directly after i put it in the container till the next day, now I don’t know how long time i have to keep it in the fridge again after the stretch and fold, although it’s started to rise with bubbles on top

    1. Hi!
      Just shape it and let it ferment until it will become puffy.

  11. What about water temperature, when you mix flour and water, should you care about water temperature?
    Thank you for your reply 🙂

    1. Hi!
      I’m using water about 22-24С

  12. I followed your recipe for the starter the night before but woke up this morning to a flat starter?? Should I try to make the foccacioa anyways?

    1. Was it flat because it didn’t rise at all, or was it flat because it deflated after fermentation

  13. Hi Natalya, Thank you for your recipe! Im wondering if I don’t have sourdough starter, can I use instant yeast instead? Thanks!

    1. Hi Natasha – could i double this recipe? If i do it, any special advise on how to go about it? Thanks!

      1. Hi!
        Off course you can double the recipe. No changes needed 😉

  14. I’ve tried making focaccia before and it was a flop. I tried your recipe yesterday (3rd time is a charm) and it was a hit!!! AMAZING! I had people over and it was gone by the end of the night! Making another one today! Thank you for a fantastic recipe! I love baking with my sourdough starter!

    1. Annette!
      Thank you do much for your kind feedback.

  15. This is my favorite focaccia!! I made several mistakes in the order of it all, but it was forgiving.

    1. Thank you do much for your feedback. So happy 🙏

  16. Voy a intentar hacerla, nunca probé una focaccia así, con masa madre 👍, la que generalmente hago llega papa 🥔 y levadura, queda muy rica es del chef Donato De Santis
    Gracias por la receta 👏👏👏

  17. Wonderful recipe. I have not been doing cold Retard as I have been using a self-adopted yeast recupe converted to Sourdough.

    I am consistently getting good Focaccia but I am sure your recipe will work better.

    I will make it next time with your recipe.

    1. Thank you 🙏

  18. Hi,
    I followed your recipe and let the dough proof in the Challenger pan – all good here. Then Pre-heated the oven to 450F for 30 min. After the given baking time the Focaccia looked perfect. However, then the disappointment came – the bottom of the Foccacia was pretty pale and soft (almost mushy in comparison to the top). Do you pre-heat your pan and slide the dough into the pan (but how would you proof the bread)?

    1. Hi!
      Usually I proof it in the challenger pan.
      If you want the bottom darker, then just cover the top with foil (to protect from burning) and bake focaccia longer.

  19. My dough took all 45G of bassinage but became VERY wet and I just put it in an 8×8 glass dish to ferment. I hope the 12.7% protein King Arthur Organic bread flour is stron enough to support this dough, which is 86.4% hydration factoring in the starter. Hoping for the best. I will do my folds and see what happens.

    1. Steven, hi!
      Somehow organic flour from King Arthur cannot hold as much water as regular bread flour.
      Hope you were able to make it nice.

    2. I was using the 12.7% King Authur flour and it was able to take all water really well. The dough was very shiny and smooth, which reminded me of panettone dough. I usually drip the water very slowly while mixing it, waiting until it’s fully incorporated.

      1. Thank you, Peter!

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