Sourdough Focaccia

Sourdough isn’t traditional for focaccia, but it’s one of the few sourdough breads you can cut and eat hot. Get focaccia recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I see all types of bread as an easy snack, but focaccia stands out among them. I’d buy it oven-hot as a street snack in Italy, and that flavor has stuck with me decades later. It’s tempting to think of focaccia as a deep-crust pizza crust or sandwich bread and load up on toppings and fillings, but it really rises best in the oven when it isn’t overloaded and shows off its heavy glug of olive oil when other flavors don’t take over.

Although sourdough isn’t traditional for focaccia, the tang pairs beautifully with silky olive oil. It also makes the dough forgiving of busy schedules; instead of having to watch to ensure it doesn’t overproof, you can slide the pan into the refrigerator and bake it at your leisure. But one of the greatest perks of sourdough focaccia is that unlike many sourdough breads, you can cut it and eat it hot. This also means it doesn’t keep as well, so I make a small loaf in a single 9- by 13-inch pan and bake often. Besides snack food, the hot bread works well with a bowl of Tomato Juice Soup or on an appetizer plate with pickles, homemade cheese, and sliced fruit.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just water, flour, oil, and salt, plus your sourdough starter. Need starter? I’m giving it away all month! Click here to learn more.
1. Mix all the ingredients and let them rest.
2. Fold the dough twice, resting after each folding.
3. Spread the dough in a pan and chill.
4. Bake and eat hot.

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Savory Sourdough Focaccia

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
260 grams Sourdough Starter (100% hydration)
120 grams water or whey
36 grams (about 3 tablespoons) olive oil, with more for coating and brushing
320 grams all-purpose flour
8 grams (about 1 teaspoon) fine sea salt
1 tablespoon Salt-Preserved Herbs, such as lemon thyme

Set a large bowl on a kitchen scale. Measure in the starter and then the water, stirring until they begin to combine. Add the oil and flour; mix just enough to moisten most of the flour and then let rest for 10 minutes. Feed your starter.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, sprinkle it with the salt, and knead it for about 10 seconds. Add about a tablespoon of oil to the bowl, tilting the bowl until the lower half is coated. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel, and let rest for 30 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Double letter fold the dough like you would for Sourdough Cabin Bread, gently stretching it in four directions as far as it can go without tearing, forming a rectangle. Fold 1/3 over and then the other 1/3 over, like folding a piece of paper for a letter. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and let rest for 1 hour. Repeat the double letter folding, letting the dough rest in the oiled bowl another hour.

Turn the dough out onto a rimmed 9- by 13-inch baking sheet lightly coated with oil and let it rest for about 5 minutes, until the gluten relaxes. Use your fingertips to press it gently into a rectangle that fills most of the pan, but avoid flattening the air bubbles and blisters as much as possible. Cover with waxed paper and let the dough proof in the pan for an hour at room temperature. Move the pan to the fridge, letting the dough chill for at least an hour or overnight.

When ready to bake, remove the pan from the fridge, gently lift and replace the waxed paper back over the dough, and let the dough sit for about an hour, until it comes to room temperature and begins to rise again. Use your fingertip to make indentations across the dough’s surface. Gently brush it with oil and sprinkle it with the herbs and their salt or your preferred toppings (see Tips & Tricks). Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes, until golden, and then slide the bread onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut it into squares, and eat. Toast any leftovers at a low setting and eat within a few days. Makes 1 loaf.

Tips & Tricks
  • You can make sourdough focaccia in one go, putting it briefly in the fridge for better flavor and texture. I prefer to let it chill out several hours or overnight so that the sourdough tang comes through the oil flavor and it develops a soft center for its crispy crust.
  • Although many people treat focaccia like pizza, it won’t rise well if you bog it down with toppings. I often opt for a simple flaky salt, plain or flavored, or a coarse sugar for a sweeter breakfast loaf (see below). In season, a tablespoon of fresh oregano, basil, or rosemary is also delicious, as is minced garlic.
  • For a slightly more substantial topping, sauté some thinly sliced onion or thin asparagus spears to spread on the surface of the bread. A little grated Parmesan or mozzarella is also delicious. For more unusual toppings, try Grilled Red Onion Relish, nasturtium capers, or paper-thin slices of potato and lemon.
  • Some of my favorite easy toppings are homemade savory spreads, such as Sweet Pepper Jelly or Apple-Red Onion Marmalade. Jellies will burn to your pan if you simply spread them on with a knife. Instead, heat a couple spoonfuls until syrupy, and then gently spread onto the top of the dough with a pastry brush. You can also lay a piece of baking parchment on the pan and oil it before shaping the dough, allowing you to catch any overflow.
  • Focaccia is best eaten fresh, but if you stick to simple salt-and-herb toppings, you can still enjoy it after a few days when the loaf starts to stale. It makes tasty crispy breadsticks; just cut each square into 1/2-inch strips and bake on a lightly oiled baking sheet at 325°F for about 15 minutes, until golden and crisp.
  • Leftover focaccia can also be cut into cubes and toasted briefly for croutons or turned to bread crumbs in a food processor. Toppings are best avoided for these reuses.


Sourdough isn’t traditional for focaccia, but it’s one of the few sourdough breads you can cut and eat hot. Get focaccia recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

Sourdough isn’t traditional for focaccia, but it’s one of the few sourdough breads you can cut and eat hot. Get focaccia recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.When I started thinking about the Twice as Tasty recipe for this week’s main focaccia bread, I remembered eating a sweet version in Italy, drizzled with local honey. Once you think beyond herb and onion flavors, the variations for focaccia can range from a lightly sweetened loaf for breakfast to a full-on dessert bread.

In terms of technique, little changes if you’re topping the loaf or adding a layer of filling after it bakes (although I do like to mix a little sugar into the dough if I know I’ll be giving it a sweet finish). But dried and fresh fruits also make delicious baked-in fillings if they’re handled carefully. Fresh fruits in particular should be sliced thin and worked into the dough with a light touch; otherwise, you’ll release more juice into the dough, affecting the texture—and potentially color. Berries can be too delicate or turn the dough gray as they bleed, but lighter, firmer fruits bake up beautifully. To add them, I give the dough a final folding that envelopes the fresh or dried fruits.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You just a ball of focaccia dough plus a little sugar, butter, and your fruit filling.
1. Mix all the ingredients and let them rest.
2. Fold the dough twice, resting after each folding.
2. Fold one more time, enclosing the fruit in the dough.
3. Spread the dough in a pan and chill.
4. Bake and eat hot.

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Sweet Sourdough Focaccia

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
1 batch Savory Sourdough Focaccia dough
3 grams (about 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar (optional)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon salted butter, melted
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Prepare the dough as you would for Savory Sourdough Focaccia, adding granulated sugar during the mixing if desired. After 2 rounds of double-letter folding and resting, turn the dough out onto the floured surface and flatten it gently. Sprinkle the cranberries over the dough, and then fold the dough using a final double-letter fold, working in any cranberries that poke through. Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes, and then slide it onto a rimmed 9- by 13-inch baking sheet lightly coated with oil. Press the dough into a rectangle, filling the pan but trying to keep the cranberries covered as much as possible. Cover with waxed paper and leave for an hour at room temperature. Chill the dough for an hour or longer.

When ready to bake, pull the pan from the fridge, gently lift and replace the waxed paper, and leave the dough at room temperature for about an hour, until it begins to rise again. Dimple the dough with your fingertip, brush gently with melted butter, and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes, until golden, and then slide the bread onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 minutes, cut it into squares or wedges, and eat. Toast any leftovers at a low setting and eat within a few days. Makes 1 loaf.

Tips & Tricks
  • Like savory focaccia, you have plenty of filling and topping options for sweet loaves. Other dried fruit and even fresh sour cherries or sliced grapes can be folded into the dough. For a more substantial loaf, top with thin slices of plum or peeled apple and nuts. Sweet jellies and syrups are also an option. Once cooked, it can be drizzled with honey or sliced in half and layered with ganache or for dessert.
  • Sweet focaccia can also be repurposed if it is simply sweetened; any filling will fall out if you attempt to turn it into breadsticks. Instead of dried fruit, put a little spice, like cinnamon or cardamom, in the dough and then dip your breadsticks in Roasted Raspberry Syrup or Fresh Caramel Sauce.


Like what you’ve learned but don’t have a sourdough starter? Now’s your chance! The 3rd Annual Sourdough Giveaway runs through January 31, 2020. Learn how to get your free sourdough starter here. Then join the Twice as Tasty Challenge by becoming a newsletter subscriber; click here to subscribe.

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