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Sourdough Focaccia bread - anytime is a good time · 29.02.20 by colin newell

Bread making – I grew up with it and it is an activity that has been in my DNA forever. Not only that, bread was something that sustained me through some lean times. My mom made 4 to 6 loaves a week of yeast based breads — and very little natural yeast (sourdough) to the best of my knowledge.

I like introducing people to bread making for a variety of reasons. One of which, it is not rocket science. With a natural yeast starter, bread is little to no more than flour, water and salt. That’s it. It has been done this way for thousands of years. Beer, in fact, is an off shoot of bread making. But let’s keep it simple for a bit.

As noted above, I think focaccia is a perfect sourdough-bread-baking starting point. It will teach you the fundamentals of working with sourdough without the potentially troublesome steps of shaping, scoring, and baking with Dutch ovens, bread pans and other vessels. The recipe below also can be baked in a loaf pan or a cookie sheet, another great option if you do not want to deal with the skillset and artistry that you will, no doubt, acquire over time.

Picture below – what your dough looks like after proofing overnight!

Let’s go! We assume from this point that you have an activated, fed and feisty sourdough starter. I know I should cover off this, most important, factor — but for now, let’s just go with the theory that you have a starter – and we are good to go.

Here is a tip – Your sourdough starter is good to go if you take a tablespoon of it and drop it in water and it floats!

1.) Grab a bowl that will holder at least 1/2 kg of dough – that is 500G – so something medium sized.

2.) Add 100g of your starter to the bowl.

3.) Add 10g of kosher salt – great salt can effect the flavour so don’t cheap out on this critical ingredient.
  • tech note * – Salt is a fermentation inhibitor – it slows the process down — and that is a good thing.

4.) Add 360g of warm water (not hot water!) 35 to 45 degrees © or 110 degrees (F) is probably OK but not more than that.

5.) Mix the water, salt and starter well.

6.) Add 512g of bread flour. Mix to form a sticky ball.

7.) You can let this all rise overnight (6 to 12 hours) or slow it down by putting it in the fridge. Fermentation keeps moving along even when your dough is tucked away in a cool area – it changes the flavour some but does not harm. For keeping the focaccia “feisty” I tend to keep it out in the kitchen and work around its schedule.

8.) Assuming you are doing this overnight, in the morning pull out the dough and give it a few pulls and folds – consult the YouTube video below for some technique-tips (way easier than me trying to explain it!)

Picture above After raising overnight – should look like the above picture.

9.) Get the slightly deflated dough into a bowl with some olive oil (on top and on the bottom…) – it inhibits sticking.

10.) Let rise for 4 – 6 hours. Get out a cookie sheet or deep dish pizza pan (the square of rectangular type…)
11.) Oil the pan “generously” – you need a good continuous coating on the bottom of the pan.
12. ) Transfer the dough into the pan. Cover and “2nd rise” for 4 to 6 hours.

Picture Below – What your 2nd-Raised dough should like before tossing into the oven.

Tip You know the dough has been proofed enough when you press it with your finger and it kind of bounces back by about 75%.

13.) Prior to putting the proofed bread into the oven, garnish with fresh rosemary and a good drizzle of olive oil and artisanal salt – even coarse kosher salt is fine.

14.) Bake for 24 minutes at 450 degrees (F) or until delightfully brown on top. Turn onto drying rack for, at least, 30 minutes or more before cutting — I know, it is tempting to try cutting it when it is right out of the oven. Don’t!

*Reveal! – This bread is perfect with any meal – it does not need butter as it is infused with olive oil.

It is crunchy, chewy, nutritious and tasty.

Let it cool before cutting!*

SourDoughBreadmaking-Audio-MP3.mp3


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and long time coffee expert – writing on the subject of coffee for over 20 years! His dissertation on this subject can be found over on www.coffeecrew.com


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