Follow this top-rated recipe tutorial at home to bake soft, crusty, and chewy fresh focaccia using a combination of leftover discarded sourdough starter and instant yeast. It’s easy and quick to make, as far as baking homemade focaccia goes, no special equipment needed!
This recipe takes about 4 hours to make; baker's schedule included! This is a great recipe for beginning sourdough bakers because it's quick, easy, and foolproof.
Note from Alanna: I first published this easy focaccia recipe in 2009 when TBG was only 1 month old! I was deep in a sourdough bread phase and needed things to do with excess sourdough starter. This recipe quickly became the most-made of all my homemade bread recipes over the years (the second one being my multi-grain sandwich bread). It has over eighty 5-star ratings (plus more positive comments from the days before I had star ratings on TBG.) I hope you love it too!
Here's what one happy baker had to say about this sourdough discard focaccia:
“This focaccia is RIDICULOUSLY good!!! Excellent recipe! Made mine with Maldon sea salt, dried thyme and rosemary. So so good!”—Violetta
These days, most of the recipes I publish are gluten-free. Try this one from my friend Sarah at Snixy Kitchen if you're looking for a gluten-free focaccia recipe.
PS. Some people say "focaccia bread" but since focaccia *is* a type of bread, this is like saying "bread bread". Please just don't.
My Introduction to Handmade Focaccia
My first baking job, during my freshman year at UC Santa Cruz, lasted about three months. My shift started at 4am and I regularly slept through my alarm and awoke at 9am to a call from my coworkers, already 5 hours late to work.
But despite my frequent tardiness and sleep deprivation, my favorite part of the job was dimpling out the oiled, herb-coated focaccia dough as it slowly rose in multiple hotel pans. There was something so satisfying about pressing the soft, springy dough, coated with fragrant olive oil, onto baking sheets, the scent of yeast mingling with fragrant olive oil.
Easy Sourdough Focaccia
I developed this quick sourdough focaccia recipe one day when I wanted to bake a sourdough focaccia but didn't have the hours and hours needed to wait for a dough leavened only with wild yeast to rise. I tinkered with a recipe for yeasted focaccia, adding sourdough starter and tweaking the rest of the ingredients accordingly.
What I pulled out of the oven that day was the best focaccia I'd ever eaten or made, and it took a quarter of the time that traditional sourdough recipes do. It was one of my more triumphant moments in life to date. You'll feel the same way when you try it!
Why is this sourdough focaccia so fast to make?
Most sourdough focaccia recipes are leavened only by sourdough and they take many hours to rise; most top recipes take about 20-24 hours to make, start to finish.
This recipe uses a touch of rapid rise yeast to speed up the process shortening the rising time significantly. It only takes about 4 hours total. This means you can start your sourdough discard focaccia earlier in the day and enjoy it with dinner! Just like those more time-intensive recipes, it still bakes up with a golden crust, beautiful air holes, a springy texture, and big flavor.
Here's the baker's schedule for this focaccia recipe:
- mix the dough: 20 minutes
- first rise: 1-2 hours
- second rise: 45-60 minutes
- bake: 30-40 minutes
- cool: 1 hour
- total time: 3.5 - 4.5 hours
Sourdough Focaccia made with Discarded Starter
Another bonus of this recipe: since commercial yeast is doing some of the heavy lifting, we don't need to use freshly fed starter. This recipe uses the starter you throw away when refreshing your starter. Sourdough discard starter can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a few days, which means you can make this recipe on the fly instead of first having to feed your starter and wait for it to activate. You can even freeze discard starter and defrost it when you're ready to bake!
This is also a great recipe to make if your starter is just getting going, since it might be a bit weak to raise bread on its own at this point. And it's an easy, foolproof recipe, making it great for beginning sourdough bakers as well as seasoned pros with time constraints.
Ingredients & Substitution Suggestions
This easy sourdough discard focaccia comes together with just a handful of ingredients.
- Sourdough discard starter adds tangy notes and helps the bread rise. The starter should be runny enough to pour, the consistency of runny yogurt or thick heavy cream. It's best to measure by weight since the bubbliness of your starter will impact volume measurements.
- A small amount of rapid rise yeast gives the focaccia dough a boost, shortening the rising time. You can sub fresh yeast or active dry yeast (see recipe notes for the method)
- All-purpose flour or bread flour can be used here. Bread flour will give the focaccia bigger air holes and a chewier crumb, as shown here. All-purpose flour will make a more tender focaccia with a finer crumb.
- Whole wheat flour adds some nice, earthy flavor. You can use other glutenous whole grain flours such as spelt, kamut, rye, or barley if you like. Or you can use all white flour for a more traditional focaccia.
- Warm water moistens the dough. It's best to heat filtered water to avoid contamination from your pipes. Just make sure it's not too hot so as to kill the yeast. It should feel pleasantly warm to the touch but not hot.
- Olive oil adds moisture and savory flavor. Use a flavorful extra-virgin olive oil if you can.
- Fine sea or kosher salt flavors the dough, while flaky salt adds addicting crunch to the top of the focaccia. Avoid using table salt, which can taste harsh.
- Optional toppings and flavors: try adding some minced fresh rosemary or thyme to the dough. Dot the focaccia with some olives, sliced red onion, or cherry tomatoes. Or try poking some roasted cloves of garlic into the top before baking. It's hard to go wrong where focaccia is concerned!
No don't need much special equipment to make this easy sourdough focaccia.
- to mix the dough: stand mixer with a hook or paddle attachment (or a bowl and a spoon or spatula for mixing by hand)
- to shape the dough: 9x12-inch baking pan or quarter-sheet pan
- to turn the dough: a plastic bench scraper
- optional: a baking stone will make the bottom crust more crisp if you've got one
- also optional: I like to add some ice cubes to a pan in the oven, which steams the oven, helps the crumb open up, and makes the crust turn golden. But several readers have omitted this step and still had great results!
This recipe is so fun and easy to make. The mixer does the hard work of mixing the sticky dough, and the best part is sticking your fingers in the dough to dimple the dough in the pan!
If you don't have a stand mixer, don't fret: several readers have successfully made this recipe with a bowl and a wooden spoon or spatula!
This makes a 9x12-inch focaccia, about 12 servings.
- Combine the starter, yeast, water, and flours in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or dough hook attachment (both work!).
- Mix on low a couple of minutes until combined, then increase to speed 3 and beat for 8 minutes.
- Sprinkle on the salt, and beat on 3 for another five minutes. At this point, the dough should still be sticky, but should pull away from the sides of the bowl while it's being mixed.
- Leave the dough in the bowl, cover, and let rise 1-2 hours until doubled or tripled in bulk.
- Line a 9x12-inch baking sheet with a sling of parchment paper and coat with some olive oil.
- Turn the dough out onto the center of the oiled parchment and drizzle with more olive oil.
- This is the best part! Use your fingers to dimple the dough outwards towards the sides and corners of the pan.
- Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, dimpling out the dough a few more times to fill in the corners.
- Sprinkle a bit of crunchy salt over the top, and any other toppings you like, and give the dough one last dimpling.
- Optionally place a "sacrificial" pan in the oven and add a handful of ice cubes just before adding the focaccia.
- Bake the focaccia at 500ºF until golden and lovely.
- Let cool completely, then devour!
Full of big, "old-dough" flavor, the generous dose of olive oil makes the outsides of this sourdough focaccia addictively crisp and keeps it moist for several days. A sprinkle of flaky salt and fresh herbs add palate pleasing complexity.
What to Serve with Sourdough Focaccia
You may want to just nom this straight from the pan. But if you have some restraint, here are some favorite uses for this focaccia:
- Slather with homemade basil butter
- Cut it into fingers for hors d'oeuvres with dips and spreads such as vegan lentil-walnut pate
- Dip it in soup, such as this creamy vegan roasted tomato soup
- Slice it horizontally for sandwiches such as these green goddess sandwiches, or use it to make this giant grilled tomato sandwich situation.
How do you like to use focaccia? Drop a note in the comments below!
*Bojon appétit! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest, purchase my gluten-free cookbook Alternative Baker, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this quick sourdough focaccia recipe, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and rating below, and tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
Discarded Sourdough Starter Focaccia (Quick & Easy!)Print Recipe Pin Recipe
- 6 ounces (170 g) liquid sourdough starter (¾ cup flat, 1 ½ cups or more bubbly)
- 1 teaspoon instant, rapid rise yeast (or 1 tablespoon fresh yeast) (you can omit this if your starter is very active)*
- 1 cup (120 g / 4 ¼ ounces) whole wheat flour (or more AP flour)
- 1 ¾ cups (225 g / 8 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
- 1 ¼ cups (285 ml) water, lukewarm
- 2 teaspoons fine sea or kosher salt
- ¼ cup (55 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon or so crunchy salt, such as Malden or fleur de sel
- optional toppings: ½ cup halved pitted black olives; chopped thyme, rosemary, or sage; whole roasted garlic cloves; cherry tomatoes; anything else you can think of
Mix the dough
- Combine the starter, instant yeast (see note if using active dry yeast), water and flours in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or dough hook attachment (both work!).
- *Note that if you don't have a stand mixer, you can mix the dough by hand in a large bowl with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula for the same amount of time listed for each step.
- Mix on low for a couple of minutes until combined, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then increase to speed 3 and beat for 8 minutes. The dough should be very wet and sticky, almost batter-like, but not liquid. Add more flour or water as you knead if the dough seems overly wet or dry, respectively.
- Sprinkle on the salt, and beat on 3 for another five minutes. The dough should still be sticky, but should pull away from the sides of the bowl while it's mixing.
- Leave the dough in the bowl, cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap, and let rise 1-2 hours until doubled or tripled in bulk.
Bake the focaccia
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and place a baking stone on top, if you have one. Place a sacrificial metal or cast iron pan on the floor of the oven - you will put ice in it to steam the oven, and it will become rusted and nasty. (UPDATE: a reader reported that the recipe works beautifully without this step, so I'm calling it optional!) Preheat the oven to 500ºF.
- Line a 9x12-inch rimmed baking pan (or quarter-sheet pan) with a sling of parchment paper (the paper should lay flat in the bottom with the long ends sticking out.) Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil all over the bottom and sides of the paper.
- With a plastic scraper, turn the dough over in the bowl a few times, tamping out some of the air bubbles, then blob it onto the center of the oiled parchment. Drizzle the remaining oil on top and use your fingers to dimple the dough outwards towards the sides and corners.
- Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, until it mostly fills in the pan, dimpling out the dough a few more times to fill in the corners. The olive oil will pool in the corners, so use a teaspoon to "baste" the top of the focaccia with that oil. Sprinkle a bit of crunchy salt over the top, and any other toppings you like, and give the dough a last dimpling.
- Fill a 1 cup measure with ice cubes. Quickly place the focaccia pan on the baking stone (if using) and toss the ice cube into the sacrificial pan on the floor of the oven if using. Close the door and don't open it again for the next 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, rotate the focaccia, then turn the oven down to 450ºF and bake for another 5 - 15 minutes, until golden and lovely on top. Remove to a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then lift out of the pan and cool completely before snarfing.
- Store the focaccia at room temperature in a plastic bag for up to a few days (but I doubt it will last that long!)
- mix the dough - 20 minutes
- first rise - 1-2 hours
- second rise - 45-60 minutes
- bake - 30-40 minutes
- cool - 1 hour