Follow this top-rated recipe tutorial at home to bake soft & chewy fresh focaccia using leftover discarded sourdough starter & instant yeast.
Prep Time: 10 minutesminutes
Cook Time: 30 minutesminutes
Rising Time: 3 hourshours
Total: 3 hourshours40 minutesminutes
Servings: 12servings (makes one 9x12" bread)
6ounces(170 g) liquid sourdough starter(¾ cup flat, 1 ½ cups or more bubbly)
1teaspooninstant, rapid rise yeast (or 1 tablespoon fresh yeast) (you can omit this if your starter is very active)*
1cup(120 g / 4 ¼ ounces) whole wheat flour(or more AP flour)
1 ¾cups (225 g / 8 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
1 ¼cups(285 ml) water, lukewarm
2teaspoonsfine sea or kosher salt
¼cup(55 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
¼teaspoonor 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!).
Mix on low 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.
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!)
This recipe takes 3 - 5 hours to make. Here's a timeline to help you plan your bake:
mix the dough - 20 minutes
first rise - 1-2 hours
second rise - 45-60 minutes
bake - 30-40 minutes
cool - 1 hour
*If using active dry yeast:Place the warm water (105° - 115°F) in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle 2 teaspoons active dry yeast over the water. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey to feed the yeast and help it activate. Whisk to combine and let sit until the mixture foams, 10-20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and proceed with the recipe.Nutritional values are based on one of 12 servings.