Sourdough Focaccia is fluffy and chewy on the inside with a crispy outside, made with an active sourdough starter for that sourdough flavor in every bite! It is delicious on its own, but also pairs wonderfully with various spreads and dipping options. Plus, it is made in a baking dish with just a few ingredients and no yeast. If you have a little patience, you can certainly make this bread. If you need one, here are instructions on getting your sourdough starter going!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Flour: I used all-purpose flour for the bread. This gives the bread a soft, tender texture.
Water: Use room temperature water for the best results when mixing and sitting with the flour. This pre-blending and resting of the flour and water is called the autolyse method. During this process, the enzymes in the flour break down the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, allowing the gluten to develop. This results in a dough that is easier to work with, has improved texture and produces bread with a better rise and flavor.
Sourdough Starter: When making the bread, use an active sourdough starter (mature or ripe starter), not discard. Active sourdough starter has the most leavening power, which is what you want in this bread since yeast is not used. You can tell your starter is active enough to bake when it is thick, consistently bubbling, and doubling in size within 6-8 hours of each feeding. I do not recommend using sourdough discard, as that may not have enough leavening powder to get the bread to rise.
Salt: Most of the kosher salt will be added to the dough mixture. Reserve 1/2 teaspoon to sprinkle over the top before baking.
Olive Oil: I prefer extra virgin olive oil when making sourdough focaccia.
Mixing The Dough: The Rubaud Method
After the dough ingredients have been combined, it’s time to mix the dough. You will do this by hand using the Rubaud method. This method is a matter of mixing the dough by scooping, pulling, and stretching the dough 3 or 4 times, and then letting it rest. It develops gluten strength. You will do the pulling and stretching of the dough 4 times within 2 hours. After each stretch and pull session, the dough needs to rest for 30 minutes. The resting time is just as important as the mixing, so don’t skip that step.
What Is A Coil Fold?
After mixing the sourdough focaccia dough using the Rubaud method, you have one more step before letting it rest overnight, the coil fold. A coil fold is a method of folding the dough to help develop gluten. To do this, first, wet your hands. Then, use your wet hands to loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl. Next, use your fingers to lift up the dough from the center. Let the dough drape over your fingers, allowing the weight of the dough to pull it down towards the bowl. As the dough gets closer to the bottom of the bowl, fold it over itself. Then, rotate the bowl 90 degrees. Lift from the center again, folding the dough. This is an important step to help the dough develop and strengthen gluten, which will help hold its shape while baking.
How to Store Sourdough Focaccia
Sourdough Focaccia usually lasts up to 3 days at room temperature. Do not store it in the refrigerator. Instead, keep it covered with a towel or in a zipped plastic bag someplace that is relatively cool. A bread box also works well.
Can I Freeze Sourdough Focaccia?
Yes! Sourdough Focaccia freezes quite well. First, let it cool completely. Next, wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and store it in a zipped freezer bag. Label and date the packaging; it will last up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, remove from the freezer and freezer bag but keep it in the foil. Place bread (still in the foil!) in the oven for 15 minutes at 350°F. If you want it crispy, you can remove it from the foil and place it back into the oven for a few more minutes. Let cool slightly, then enjoy!
- 5 cups (625 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ cups water, room temperature
- ⅓ cup (92 g) active sourdough starter
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for coating a bowl
- To a large mixing bowl, add flour and water. Mix well. Cover and let rest at room temperature for one hour.
- When ready, add the active sourdough starter, 2 ½ teaspoons salt, and 1 tablespoon oil. Mix well, cover, and rest for 30 minutes.
- Over the next two hours, hand-mix the dough every 30 minutes using the Rubaud method. Using wet fingers, reach your hand under one side of the dough and pull and stretch the dough into the center of the bowl. Turn the bowl and repeat the pulling and stretching processing 3-4 more times. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes. You will repeat this 3 more times (pull, stretch, cover, rest 30).
- Coil fold the dough 4 times. To do this, gently loosen the dough from the sides of the bowl. Using wet fingers, place your hands under the center of the dough and gently lift the dough with both hands from the middle. Allow the weight of the dough to naturally pull downward. Fold the dough back into the bowl, turn the bowl 90 degrees, and repeat in the opposite direction. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and cover to rest overnight at room temperature (10-14 hours).
- The next day, the dough should have doubled in size and will be bubbly.
- To a 9×13-inch baking dish, add 2 tablespoons oil. Gently pour the dough onto the oil. Top with one tablespoon of oil and gently press to the edges of the pan, being careful not to pop any bubbles. Cover and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, use oiled fingers to dimple the dough. Coat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Let the dough rest while the oven preheats.
- Bake for 28 minutes. Then, check the bread; if any bubbles are getting too dark, cover them with aluminum foil. Bake an additional 10-12 minutes.
- Let the bread cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack.
Did you make this recipe?
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What the Test Kitchen had to say about this recipe:
As a self-proclaimed bread fanatic, I'm telling you, this is a must-try focaccia recipe! I absolutely love focaccia bread, and this checks all of the boxes. Crunchy exterior (check), soft, pillowy interior (check). The simplicity of using just salt for seasoning allowed the true flavors of the sourdough to shine through. The directions are easy to understand, and while the process takes some time, it is totally worth the wait!
If you have read my other reviews, you know I love bread! Well, I have my new favorite kind…this sourdough focaccia. If you have patience and a sourdough starter, you can easily get it made! It has a crunchy crust and a soft, tender center. I enjoyed it plain and with a slab of butter. I didn't even need to dip it into anything, it was that good!
Oh my goodness. This is incredible!! I absolutely love sourdough, so I knew this would be great. It certainly exceeded my expectations. It's soft on the inside with the right amount of crisp on the outside. This recipe might look like a challenge, but it is totally worth it in the end!
This focaccia is the bomb. Don't let the steps intimidate you. They are relatively simple! The result is worth it. Super bubbly, flavorful; soft on the inside and a crisp, chewy crust. Sourdough perfection.