Last week’s post laid out a few simple notes on how to convert any bread recipe to sourdough. Now it is time to put it to the test. I thought that I would start simple with an original recipe for focaccia from Richard Bertinet’s book, Dough.
The techniques for making the focaccia are basically similar for each type – yeast or sourdough. However, there are some differences, particularly in resting and raising times. The instructions given here are for the sourdough version. Both ways make excellent focaccia. But, I am rather inclined to prefer the slow rise sourdough as it tastes better, has a nicer texture and produces a crunchier crust.
Measure your ingredients, adding the flour, semolina and salt to the sourdough starter. Pour on the water and 50g of oil. Mix until less sticky, testing to see if it needs additional flour if too wet or additional water if too dry. When the dough is mixed, tip it out onto a floured surface. Stretch and pull the dough, folding it over and turning it half way to do again until the dough is soft, but no longer sticky. Form into a ball and place back into the cleaned and lightly greased bowl. Cover with clingfilm or a shower cap and let it rise. It should double in size. Depending on the weather, the heat, etc. this should take about 4 to 6 hours.
Lightly oil a baking tray and carefully tip out the dough. Preserving as many air bubbles as possible, gently prod the dough out flat to fit into the corners. Do not stretch or mash the dough. Cover again and let this sit for an hour or two until the dough is slightly risen again. Scatter stripped rosemary sprigs on top and create dimples with your fingers all over the dough. Cover and let it sit for another hour. Bertinet puts the rosemary on after this last rise, but the rosemary simply sits on top and has a tendency to brush off once baked.
When ready to bake (at 220 degrees C), sprinkle coarse sea salt over the top and place in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and have a crunchy crust. Cut or tear the bread and enjoy.