Sour Dough Focaccia
Focaccia is just so versatile. Serve it with soup or salad and it becomes a festive meal. As an hors d’oeuvre, it can hold just about anything from tomatoes and cheese to deli to lox. And of course, it fits right next to any pasta or other Italian meals. I made this from a sour dough starter, which I usually have on hand. I have a recipe for a sour dough starter at the end of the recipe. I have also included, at the end of the recipe, a recipe that is not made with a sour dough starter, faster and equally delicious. Squisita!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Laurie Easter has an unusual life. She dwells in a remote area, off the grid. Her bathtub is outside, she birthed on the dirt floor of her cabin and she lives much of her life as part of nature. Laurie is a caregiver, nursing friends and family through illness, staying with others as they approach death and facing difficulties of all sorts. She is brave, not turning away from struggles, yet continues to search for the joy that simultaneously exists with sorrow. All the Leavings is a beautiful memoir about how we, and those we love, arrive and leave.
Sour Dough Focaccia
1 1/2 cups (340g) active sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups (340g) warm water
6 tablespoons (74g) olive oil, plus extra for the pan and the top of the focaccia
1 tablespoon (18g) kosher salt
2 tablespoons (43g) honey
1 tablespoon instant yeast
6 cups (720g) Bread Flour
3 teaspoons (divided) each fresh or dried rosemary and thyme for topping
1 1/2 teaspoons (divided) kosher salt for topping
Combine the starter, water, olive oil, salt, honey and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine and then add 5 cups flour. Mix together.
Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes, depending on the temperature and humidify in your kitchen.
Coat bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turn once to coat, cover and let rise 1 hour in a draft free moderately warm place.
Press your fingers into the dough to deflate, fold over twice and let rise another hour.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil into the center of each rimmed baking sheet.
Place dough on the pan and turn it over to coat with the oil.
Gently stretch the dough into the edges and corners of the pans. As soon as the dough begins to shrink back, cover and let rest about 10 minutes. Gently stretch again, until the dough fills the pan.
Cover the pans with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator, letting the dough rise 15 hours or overnight.
The next day, remove pans of dough from the refrigerator. Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F for 30 minutes prior to baking.
Before baking, press your fingers into the dough, not deflating the dough, but enough for an impression to remain. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the dough, then sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, a few grinds of pepper and a bit of kosher salt.
Bake the focaccia at 425F for 20 to 25 minutes until light golden brown. About 15 minutes into baking, spray the dough with a spritzer bottle or water. This helps to make it crispy. Remove from the oven. Cool about 10m minutes, then turn out of pan onto a rack.
Serve the focaccia warm or at room temperature. To freeze, wrap with plastic wrap and place in a freezer bag. To rewarm place in a toaster oven or oven—keeps it crispier than way!
No sugar: Use stevia instead of honey, following conversion measurements on package.
Toppings: Add Parmesan or other cheese, other herbs of choice, deli meats, sliced tomatoes, etc.
Adapted from King Arthur’s Baking
How to make a Sour Dough Starter
1. On day 1. In a clean jar, mix 1/2 cup rye flour and 1/2 cup warm water. Mix and cover out of drafts.
2. Each of the next 5-6 days, add equal amounts of all purpose flour and water (1/2 C or less) maintaining the batter-like consistency. If there is too much liquid, pour out a bit to maintain correct consistency.
3. On day 5 or 6, bubbles should start to appear and there should be a yeasty smell. Continue to add ½ C each water and flour as before and mix well by hand. You will need 1 1/2 cups of starter for this recipe and you can save the rest for other recipes. Let sit out o n counter if you are going to use it soon or refrigerate it if you want it to last a bit. You will need to keep on feeding the starter. Some people have maintained starters for years!
Focaccia without the sourdough starter
Combine water, olive oil, salt and honey. Add 1 packet yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast, stirring to dissolve. Add the flour. Mix until the dough can’t take anymore flour, then turn onto a clean surface dusted with flour. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 -15 minutes.
Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hours in a draft free location.
Preheat oven to 425F.
Deflate the dough. Slightly oil the pan. Shape into a rectangle or circle according to the pans you’ve chosen. Let rise another 30-45 minutes or until doubled.
Place a pan of water on the bottom shelf of the oven.
Baker for 25 minutes or until the top turns golden. The bottom should be slightly browned.