Crisp, soft, and with a wonderful olive oil flavour, sourdough focaccia is the ideal flatbread. With minimal shaping and no special equipment needed, it's also a great beginner's sourdough recipe.
Use the tastiest olive oil you have for the best flavour, and see below for some suggestions on toppings for your bread. We love basic salt and rosemary, but there are unlimited options, and focaccia can be so much fun.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Flour: use either white or bread flour. We prefer bread flour when making sourdough bread, but all-purpose flour works just as well here since there's not as much of a structural requirement as for a boule.
- Starter: active, fed starter that's just peaked. This is not a sourdough discard recipe.
- Water: use room temp water for the best rise. Cold water will slow it down.
- Olive Oil: don't sub another oil - olive oil is a key flavour of focaccia.
- Salt: sea salt. If using kosher, increase the amount slightly.
- Toppings: see below for topping ideas.
Step 1: Mix the water, oil, starter, salt, and flour into a shaggy dough.
Step 2: Do three rounds of stretches and folds.
Step 3: Cover well and rise until doubled in size.
Step 4: Fold and shape the bread into a rough rectangle on an oiled pan.
Step 5: Rise again, then make the signature dimples and top as desired.
Step 6: Bake until golden and crisp.
- Remove from the pan: take the bread out of the pan as soon as possible and place it on a wire rack. If it cools on the baking sheet, it will soften.
- Chill before shaping: this isn't mandatory, but it will make the dough easier to work with if you're not so confident. Rise until doubled and then refrigerate for at least a couple hours before shaping.
- Keep oil under the bread: there must be olive oil under the dough before you set it aside to rise. Make sure to spread the oil out again on the pan before pressing the bread out.
The olive oil is definitely not negotiable! You'll lose the classic focaccia texture if you reduce or omit the oil.
Topping with herbs when the bread is fresh out of the oven has a couple of benefits. First, it prevents the burning that would occur if the herbs were baked. Second, adding them when the bread is still very hot releases the scented oils, bringing out plenty of flavour.
Taking the bread out of the pan almost immediately is to ensure the base of your sourdough focaccia stays crispy. If it cools on the baking sheet, it will soften from condensation and no one wants a soggy bottom.
For a stronger sourdough flavour, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours rather than the shorter bulk ferment at room temperature.
If your home is quite warm, we recommend making the dough in the morning so you can keep an eye on it, and prevent over-proofing. Or refrigerate for the bulk ferment, until doubled in size.
If you're not 100% confident with your shaping, use a baking dish that will prevent the dough from spreading out too much. This should be smaller than a cookie sheet - think more like a casserole dish. It'll prevent the focaccia from becoming too thin, even if the dough hasn't had the best shaping!
How to Store
Storage: keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. It will soften as it sits but still tastes good!
Freezing: place in an airtight container and freeze up to a month, or wrap well beforehand and freeze up to six months.
Focaccia Topping Ideas
- Blue cheese
- Fresh Herbs
- Roasted Garlic
Why is my sourdough focaccia gummy?
If you sourdough is gummy (this applies to all sourdough, not just focaccia) it's probably underproved. Head over to this post on troubleshooting for sourdough for more information.
Should focaccia be thick or thin?
This isn't sourdough pizza crust - your focaccia should be at least 3cm thick! Any thinner and it's too crisp, without the distinctive soft, fluffy interior crumb.
What are stretches and folds?
This is a common method used in sourdough baking, and it replaces the kneading process. It encourages the formation of gluten in the dough. You can see how to do it and more info in this post on how to stretch and fold sourdough.
If you make this Sourdough Focaccia or any other sourdough recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
- Measuring cups and spoons or a digital kitchen scale
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Tea towel
- baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Wire rack
- 100 grams active sourdough starter
- 250 grams water
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 120 ml olive oil divided
- 400 grams all-purpose or bread flour
- 1 heaping teaspoon sea salt
- olive oil for drizzling, plus any other focaccia toppings
- Add the starter a large bowl. Stir in the water, honey, and ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, mixing to combine.
- Add the flour and salt to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.
- Rest the dough for about 10 minutes before doing a round of stretches and folds. Repeat this twice more, once every 10 minutes, for a total of three rounds.
- Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and a large plate. Let it sit out at room temperature overnight, or for about 12 hours. It should be doubled in size after this time.
- Add the second ¼ cup (60 ml) of olive oil to the base of a baking sheet and place the dough onto it.
- Fold the dough into a rough rectangle, lifting and pulling one side toward the centre and repeating with each side until all 4 have been folded in.
- Flip the dough seam side down onto the pan, making sure there’s oil under the dough.
- Use your hands to stretch and press the dough out to the edges of the pan until the pan is almost filled or the dough is about 3 cm (1 inch) thick.
- Cover the dough, or place it into the oven with the door closed, and rise a second time for at least 1 hour, or until almost doubled in size again. (This may need up to 4 hours, depending on how active your starter is.)
- Preheat oven to 425°F (210°C). Oil your hands and use the tips of your fingers to gently press into the dough to create dimples all over the surface.
- Top the dough with anything you’d like (see the topping ideas for inspiration), drizzle with olive oil, and add a sprinkle of salt.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top and sides of the bread are a dark golden colour.
- Top with finely chopped herbs as soon as it comes out of the oven, and remove from the pan as soon as you can to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Focaccia is best fresh, but can be stored for a few days in an airtight container, or frozen up to a month.