Gas station without pumps

2020 June 10

Sourdough focaccia

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 14:50
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My wife suggested that I try making focaccia with the sourdough starter that I’ve been using for the past three weeks’ breads: rye bread rolls, hole-wheat sourdough, and white sourdough. Focaccia is not traditionally a sourdough recipe, but the sourdough starter should add an interesting flavor to the flatbread.

I looked at three focaccia recipes: from Carol Field’s The Italian Baker, Marcella Hazan’s More Classic Italian Cooking, and Joe Ortiz’s The Village Baker.  I’ve never baked any of those recipes, but my wife has tried both Hazan’s recipe and Ortiz’s recipe.  She was disappointed with both—the Hazan recipe made a rather ordinary flatbread and Ortiz’s was too oily. The recipe in The Italian Baker has almost no olive oil, and one of the things I like in focaccia is the olive-oil taste and texture, so I’m going to ignore that one.

I think that the sourdough starter should add more flavor, so I’ll start with the Hazan recipe, but increase the olive oil, though not to the level of Ortiz’s recipe.  The Hazan recipe uses ¾ cup water and 3 cups flour (flour/water ≈ 4), with 7 tablespoons of olive oil (so water/oil ≈ 1.7). Ortiz’s recipe calls for 2½ cups water, 6 cups flour (flour/water ≈2.4),  ¾ cup old dough, and 2.1 cups olive oil (water/oil ≈ 1.3).  Hazan’s recipe is very dry, and Ortiz’s makes a very slack dough, so I’m going to compromise on flour/water ≈3 and water/oil ≈ 1.5.

I’ll make a light sponge to rise and sour overnight, then add more flour in the morning.


1 cup sourdough starter
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups water

together in large bowl.  Cover and let rise overnight.  Stir down and remove one cup of mixture for new sourdough starter. I’ll probably freeze the starter this time, as I’m not planning to make sourdough again for a few weeks, and maintaining a starter when not using it for baking weekly is a bit of a hassle.


¾ cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped fine
fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons salt

to make a garlicky oil.

Mix into the overnight sponge

¼ cup olive oil
2–2½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt

with bread hook, kneading in last cup of flour by hand, to get a smooth dough. Place the ball of dough in the garlicky oil, cover, and let rise 3–4 hours until tripled.

Stretch dough into a sheet about 12″ by 18″ by ⅜” in a greased cookie sheet with raised sides. If the dough springs back, let it rest a couple of minutes and stretch it out again.  Make dimples in the top surface and pour the remaining garlicky oil on top.

Let rise (covered) for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F,  poke dents in the top surface, and bake 15–17 minutes, until golden brown.

One thing I haven’t decided on for sure yet is whether to bake on a metal baking sheet (as described above) or to do the final rise on baking parchment and just slide the baking parchment and focaccia into the oven directly on the baking tiles.  I’ll update this recipe when I make up my mind.

Update 2020 June 12: I went with the metal baking sheet, as it gave me a place to stretch out the dough.   The baking time from the recipes was far too short—I ended up baking the focaccia for more like 35 minutes at 400°F.  I checked the temperature with newly purchased oven thermometers, and found that the oven had been running cool—I had to raise the setting to 450°F to get 400°F and 415°F on the two thermometers in the center of the oven.

If I do this recipe again, I’ll put more of the olive oil into the dough and less into the topping (maybe ½ cup each), as the bread was almost fried in the olive oil.  I’ll also reduce the salt—cutting it about in half (so 1 teaspoon each for the dough and the garlicky oil).


The focaccia in the cookie sheet right after removal from the oven. The edges looked a little too browned to me.

Once on the cooling rack, the amount of browning looked about right to me.

The browning of the garlic made an attractive presentation on the plate.

1 Comment »

  1. […] retrying the sourdough focaccia that I made before, changing the recipe a […]

    Pingback by Sourdough focaccia 2 | Gas station without pumps — 2020 October 16 @ 09:18 | Reply

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