Well if you have been following my blog, you will see that I finally had my first outing after 3.5 months of self incarceration. The brunch at Taj Yeshwantpur was a welcome change and a breath of fresh air albeit through a mask.
I have also been busy on the recipe front for a while too and I have been playing around in the kitchen to such an extent that I have not been able to make time to document my work. But man, do I have a lot of new recipes for you, waiting patiently in the pipeline for my mood to release them from imprisonment.
But those will have to wait awhile because today I am going to be partial and jump the queue with my latest creation because … Sourdough *insert happy silly smile*
After having fun with Sourdough (SD) loaves and crackers in the past weeks, I decided to try something else for a change. Happily I decided on the Sourdough Focaccia, which is such a simple thing to produce, that I wonder why on earth it missed my attention all my life!!!
So dive into this gloopy dough and super simple recipe which gives rise to (yeah yeah pun) a chewy, crusty, flavor filled bread that also looks gorgeous enough for people to think that you are really an expert. Well they really do not need to know the truth right? 😎
(also check out the new addition at the end which has a 50:50 bread flour:whole wheat flour variation)
For the uninitiated, a focaccia is a kind of a leavened flatbread that is flavored with olive oil and herbs. It is seriously one of the most simple breads to attempt.
One can go all creative and play with the toppings and even border on walking that fine line between a pizza and a focaccia.
A focaccia can be leavened with regular commercial yeast but for those bitten by the SD bug, nothing less than an SD version is acceptable.
Starting out on Sourdough –
As always, those who are starting out on SD bakes for the first time, should have their starter ready before they can attempt this recipe. The details of how to achieve this, are here in these 2 posts SD starter 1 and SD Starter 2 and it is a must that you understand the theory first.
Sourdough Focaccia –
Once I got the urge to try out a SD focaccia, I flew into an excited frenzy and got into a big hurry to make it. Hence I did not really do much in depth research on the various (seriously infinite) methods. Of course, the general idea and ingredients are similar across recipes but one has to eventually put together what works best for oneself.
I was quite lucky that in the short span of time that I was recipe hunting, I did manage to come across an Instagram account called mothership_breads which has a nice collection of interesting bakes. You can find the details on my Instagram post.
The many many focaccias there caught my eye and when I saw that the recipes were not too scary, I decided to take the plunge.
Of course I tweak recipes all the time (it is an affliction) and even more so for high hydration bread recipes because I have learnt that it is necessary to modify the percentage of liquid in the dough, since our Indian flours never seem to do that magical thing of obediently coming together regardless of the hydration. Trying to recreate the miraculous texture has often led to disaster and I have now wisely cut down on the water, especially while trying a recipe for the first time.
Having said that though, this focaccia might have worked even with the original recipe’s squishier dough because the beauty of it is that it is eventually just dumped into a pan without the trauma of pre shaping, shaping etc. Maybe on my next attempt I will be braver with the water.
I also halved the original recipe, which is what every beginner should wisely do.
While baking too I made a small change, which I have indicated in the procedure. This is because my bigger oven is misbehaving and in this corona situation I am unable to get it checked out. Hence my small oven is my rescue oven, despite having certain limitations like not really attaining the indicated temperatures etc. But it manages to produce an acceptable result and that keeps me going.
Sourdough Focaccia Recipe –
Approximately 20 hours from start to finish.
Makes – One 8 inch diameter and 2 inch high bread.
1. Active Sourdough starter at 100% hydration (Levain) – 50 gm
2. Bread Flour – 250 gm (or use maida aka All Purpose Flour/APF)
3. Water – 162 gm
4. Olive Oil – 2 tablespoon
5. Salt – 5 gm (1 teaspoon)
For topping –
Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon
Onion rings – a few
Curry leaves – a few
Green chillies – a few diagonal slices
Or any other toppings of choice
For greasing the pan –
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
While baking –
Olive Oil – 1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon
Equipment used –
Round Non stick cake pan – 8 inch diameter
Cast Iron Tava (pan) – 10 inch diameter
1. Refresh your starter a day or two before baking, depending on how neglected it has been.
2. Prepare the Levain – About 3 hours before making the dough (say 12.30 pm), take 10 gm of the starter and feed it in a 1:4:4 ratio with 40 gm flour + 40 gm water. My levain doubles in 3 hours but if yours takes longer, then start earlier accordingly, to obtain it by 3.30 pm.
Perform the float test if you need to confirm if the levain is ready. Drop a teaspoon of levain gently into a glass container of water. If the blob floats for a while and does not sink right away, the levain is ready to be used.
Please note that all the timings indicated in the recipe are just guidelines and may vary for each person depending on several factors like weather, type of flour etc.
3. Autolyse the dough – At 3.30 pm, add 50 gm levain, the 250 gm flour and the 162 gm water into a bowl. Mix with a spatula until just incorporated. Leave it covered for 30 minutes. I use a bowl with a fitting lid.
4. After 30 minutes, at 4 pm, add the salt and whisk the dough with your hand using the Rubaud method. While doing this, I used the 1 tablespoon olive oil a little at a time, just to make it easier for me.
I performed the process only for 2 – 3 minutes because my hand started aching but if you are stronger, try doing it for 5 minutes. It also took 5 more minutes to get the dough off my hand.
5. Rest the dough for 10 minutes and Rubaud again for 3 minutes at 4.20 pm. Cover the dough again and let it rest for 30 minutes.
If you want to skip steps 4 and 5, then go directly to step 6. I do not feel there may be much of a difference.
6. At 5 pm, do one stretch and fold (SnF). Watch the video process on the King Arthur site.
Cover and rest again (both the dough and you).
7. At 5.30 pm, perform SnF 2. Cover and rest the dough.
8. At 6 pm, perform SnF 3. Cover and rest the dough.
9. Leave the covered dough to bulk ferment for 5 hours or until it seems doubled in size.
10. At 11 pm place the covered bowl in the fridge. If your lid is not well fitting, then cling wrap the bowl.
11. The next morning, take out the bowl at 11 am. Let it rest for 15 min.
12. In the meanwhile, grease the 8 inch diameter non stick pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Also line the base with parchment paper.
13. At 11.15 am, gently dump the dough into the pan. You can ease it out with oiled fingers if necessary.
14. Spread the blob of dough to reach the sides of the pan. Do not push from the top but gently lift the edges of the dough and pull to the sides of the pan. Make a circle of even thickness.
15. At 11.30 am, cling wrap the pan and set it aside for the final rise for 30 minutes or until it looks puffy and bubbles form over the surface.
16. At 11.45 am, preheat the oven to maximum temperature (250 deg c).
17. At 12 pm, place the toppings and try to insert them so that they do not pop out.
Gently poke indentations on the dough surface. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in these holes.
18. Heat the tava on the gas flame till smoking. Turn off the flame. Place the pan on the cast iron tava.
19. Immediately place the tava and pan in the pre heated oven.
20. Bake at maximum temperature till the top is brown (approximately 20 min). After this, lower the temperature to 200 deg c.
21. Open the oven and pour 1 tablespoon olive oil on the focaccia. Do this only after a minimum of 20 minutes after placing in the oven. Flip the pan 180 deg in case your oven bakes unevenly.
22. Bake for another 10 minutes or until the top is evenly brown.
23. In case you want a darker color, switch to grill mode for the last 2 -3 minutes at maximum temperature. Keep an eye on the bread because it can burn quite fast.
Please note that timings and temperatures vary from oven to oven and what I have given are mere guidelines.
24. After it is done, remove the pan from the oven and pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the bread.
25. Remove the focaccia from the pan onto a cooling rack.
26. Slice only after it has reached room temperature.
27. Enjoy it in whichever way suits you. It is usually dipped in olive oil and eaten. I like it plain.
My dough was nice and bubbly, so apart from a nice airy crumb, the underside was also rather cute 😀
There are several methods of making Focaccia. Try them out and see what works best for you.
Get creative with the toppings, not just for taste but also for aesthetics.
Edited to include the 50:50 variant –
The variant below uses 50:50 bread flour:whole wheat flour ie 125gm + 125gm.
Active Sourdough starter at 100% hydration (Levain) – 50gm using bread flour + 50gm using whole wheat flour.
I have increased the water to 200gm.
The toppings are simple and use only fresh red chillies and a garlic flavored Himalayan salt that I got recently.
I also used cold pressed sesame oil instead of olive oil.
Everything else is the same as the above recipe.
And pictures of further 50:50 attempts using variations in flavors –
The one below uses left over dipping sauces from restaurant takeaway 🙂
I hope you will successfully try this recipe and I would really appreciate if you leave your feedback in the Blog comments.