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The Best Sourdough Focaccia

Sourdough focaccia is crispy and golden on the outside, and perfectly chewy on the inside. The perfect base for pizzas, croutons and more without a ton of fussing, this easy almost no-knead method is true comfort food!

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a loaf of baked sourdough focaccia bread on a baking tray

What is sourdough bread?

Sourdough is a method of baking bread that uses a sourdough starter made from flour and water that’s been allowed to ferment and take on healthy probiotic bacteria called lactobacilli and naturally occurring yeast.

I call this “wild yeast” sourdough because there are the other more questionable methods out there that use sugar, conventional yeast and instant potato flakes to cause fermentation. This method is not true sourdough, does not have the health benefits of wild yeast and is not the starter this recipe was written for.

Do I need a starter to make this bread?

You do. If you need to make a starter, try a recipe like this. It can take up to three weeks or even longer for a starter to come to life so if you are new to sourdough baking, patience is the key.

If you need help with your starter or need to see the process step by step, check out my practical sourdough course.

sourdough focaccia staked on top of itself to show the air holes

What’s so great about focaccia bread?

Focaccia bread is an Italian flatbread that’s baked with plenty of olive oil and used as a replacement for pizza dough or split in half for sandwiches.

Its crusty edges make it great for dipping in soups, making croutons or just enjoying plain. I have no trouble eating a whole pan of it if I’m not careful!

What if I don’t want to make a sourdough version of focaccia?

If you’d rather make your next loaf without sourdough, try this version by Alexandra Cooks. I’ve made it tons of times and it is delicious!

Flavoring ideas and variations for your bread

Focaccia bread is a great blank slate for so many flavors! Try:

  • Whole garlic cloves studded in the dough before baking or roast a head and knead it in before the second rise
  • Parmesan or asiago cheese kneaded in
  • Fresh herbs including thyme or rosemary
  • After baking, split it open and top it for pizza
  • Use it for pressed hot sandwiches or grilled cheese

How to make sourdough focaccia step by step

Step 1: Mix your ingredients with an active, bubbly starter. A strong starter is the key to light bread so make sure yours is up to par before you begin. Give everything a mix and allow the dough to autolyze–let the flour absorb the water–for 30 minutes then cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise overnight on the counter for 10-12 hours.

a bowl of flour and salt
a bowl of dough after allowing to rest and soak up the water
The dough will be shaggy when first mixed. Allow to sit 30 minutes then knead lightly to smooth it out. Cover and allow to rise 12 hours.
sourdough focaccia dough after 12 hours rising
After 12 hours rising at room temperature

If you’d like to add herbs or seasonings to your dough, it’s best to add those into the dough and not on top to prevent burning. Add chopped herbs to the risen dough and knead it in before transferring to the baking sheet for its second rise.

a bowl of dough with herbs sprinkled on top to be mixed in
Sprinkle over herbs if using them and knead them in after the first rise.

Step 2: Pour 1/3 cup olive oil into a rimmed baking sheet. Scrape the dough from the bowl into the baking sheet (the dough will be soft) and press it out toward the edges of the pan. It’s okay if it doesn’t stretch all the way. It will spread as it rises. Cover with a damp towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in size–about 4 to 6 hours or more.

an oiled cookie sheet with focaccia dough spread out to rise
Transfer the risen dough to an oiled rimmed cookie sheet and spread it out with your hands.
a cookie sheet of dough covered in a damp towel
Cover with a damp towel or oiled plastic wrap for the second rise.

Step 3: Once the dough is doubled, use your fingers to press straight up and down all over the dough making dents. Drizzle over 1/4 cup of additional olive oil and 1 teaspoon of flaky salt like Maldon or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt.

risen focaccia dough after being dimpled all over; ready to be baked
After the dough rises, use your fingers to dimple the dough all over. Air bubbles will form and that’s normal.

Step 4: Bake uncovered until golden and crispy. About 18 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme or extra salt if needed after baking.

Need more bread recipes? Try these:

a loaf of baked sourdough focaccia bread on a baking tray

The Best Sourdough Focaccia Bread

Crispy, golden and delicious, this sourdough focaccia bread makes great sandwiches or pizza!
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Rise time: 16 hours
Total Time: 16 hours 28 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 377kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 50 grams active starter
  • 375 grams room temperature water
  • 20 grams honey
  • 500 grams all purpose flour
  • 9 grams fine sea salt
  • 120 grams olive oil, divided in half
  • 1 teaspoon flaky or fine sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons thyme or rosemary leaves optional

Instructions

  • In a large bowl mix the starter, water, honey, flour and salt until a shaggy dough forms. Set the dough aside for 30 minutes for the flour to absorb the water.
  • After 30 minutes, gently turn the dough over on itself a few times to smooth out the ball. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to rise at room temperature for 12 hours.
  • After 12 hours, sprinkle thyme or rosemary over the dough if using and knead them in just until mixed.
  • Oil a 9×13 rimmed baking tray with 1/4 cup (60 grams) of the olive oil. Transfer the dough to the pan and use your hands to stretch it as you can. It may spring back on you, but don't worry–it will spread as it rises.
  • Cover with a damp cloth or oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise again until doubled in size–about 4 to 6 hours more depending on the warmth of your house and strength of your starter.
  • Preheat the oven to 425. While the oven preheats, use your fingers to press straight down into the dough making dimples. Some air bubbles will form and that's fine. Drizzle over the remaining 1/4 of olive oil and sprinkle on the 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
  • Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cool and wrap tightly. Will last 2 days on the counter or 6 weeks frozen.

Notes

*Nutrition facts are very approximate

Nutrition

Calories: 377kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 731mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 31IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 3mg

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