Guest Expert: The Sourdough LoafHacker
In around 2 hours start to finish, you can have a delicious focaccia on the table for all to enjoy! If you’re like me however, it’s just for you 😉
If you’re new to bread making or want to try something different from the standard loaf, then focaccia is a brilliant place to start.
Focaccia is an Italian flat baked bread and while it’s normally served as a starter with vinegar and oils, it can also be used as sandwich bread (try fresh basil, parma ham and mozzarella toasted!) or as a side to various meals such as Tuscan Bean Stew.
It’s also low knead and low proving time meaning you only need to leave this to prove for around an hour.
The simple topping of sea salt and fresh rosemary is really all you need, but feel free to add chilli flakes, wild garlic and sun dried tomatoes for even more punch!
In the sourdough focaccia tutorial from LoafHacker, you’ll also be taught how to make a sourdough version plus see those Instagram worthy, but more importantly, TASTE worthy picture toppings.
I’m also really happy to be inviting LoafHacker in today’s back to basics challenge tutorial!
He specialises in sourdough but more specifically, San Francisco Sourdough! If you’re wondering how to get started with sourdough in the first place, LoafHacker has a brilliant two week YouTube course which you can take here.
I feel at this point I must put in a disclaimer.
I love the food community because it’s fun and you get to eat things. However, if like me you’re prone to cravings after seeing particularly drool worthy food pics, then the LoafHacker’s Instagram is one of those where you might want to mentally prepare yourself…so don’t blame me if you spend the rest of the week eating bread, and focaccia, and you know everything that comes with it like cheese, meats, olives etc 😉
It’s great to live your best focaccia life sometimes! Hahaha!
So let’s do this!
Yeasted Focaccia Basics
For a basic yeasted focaccia you only need these ingredients:
- Strong white bread flour
- Extra virgin olive oil
That’s it. Everything you need to make this.
When it comes to kneading, you only need to knead for one or two minutes compared to the 10+minutes a standard loaf takes which in my book is great!
The rise time is also brilliantly short and you only need to do it once.
But why am I saying this?
There’s nothing like freshly baked bread, but often people can be nervous in trying it. Don’t be! Not in this rebalance community! The recipe I’m about to show you is the one I use weekly. I hope you enjoy it!
Reducing Plastic Waste In The Kitchen; Easy Swaps For Cling Film When Baking
You’ll notice I don’t use cling film in this recipe, but instead greaseproof paper.
It’s the easiest alternative, is eco friendly and it doesn’t cost the earth. You can also use Butcher’s Paper which is like greaseproof but with a wax coating.
If you want to invest, I do recommend getting beeswax wraps which work as well.
With both beeswax and butcher’s paper, never use them during cooking as the wax melts on to the food. During rising though, it should be fine. Just ensure the paper/wrap doesn’t touch the bread.
Recipe: Sea Salt And Rosemary Focaccia
When it comes to portions, it’s all down to the individual as I say here. So for me, these quantities make around 4 portions, but it could be different for you.
With the rosemary, if you don’t have fresh to hand you can use dried but the flavour will be different. To get the hit of rosemary that this bread is famous for, I recommend adding 1 1/2 tsp of dried rosemary in to the dough, as well as sprinkling over the top.
- 250g strong white bread flour
- 10g fresh yeast / 4g of dried / 3g of fast acting
- Sea salt flakes (around 1 tbsp to hand)
- Extra virgin olive oil (around 6 tbsp to hand)
- 3 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 140ml to 160ml of warm water
- Oven preheated to 220°C/200°Fan
- Large metal or stoneware bowl
- Baking tray
Let’s Get Baking!
If you’re using fresh yeast, dilute first in a little water. Stir until it’s all dissolved. For dried, follow the packet instruction, and for fast acting just chuck it in.
- In your bowl, add your bread flour, yeast, 1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1tsp of salt. Add 140ml of water to begin with and mix. If it’s a little dry, add more slowly until you reach a smooth slightly sticky dough consistency.
- Once your dough has come together, tip out onto your work surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Your dough should be smooth.
- Take one of your rosemary sprigs and cut in half. Place on your baking tray with 1tbsp of extra virgin oil. Making sure the oil covers the tray.
- Put your dough on the tray and pat or roll until around 2cm thick. Cover with oiled greaseproof paper and a tea towel. Leave to rise for around an hour or until doubled in size.
- When ready, use your fingers to poke holes in the bread. Chop your rosemary into little sprigs and poke in to the holes. Sprinkle with sea salt and 1 or 2 tbsp of oil and put in your oven.
- Bake for 30 to 40mins. You’ll know it’s ready when the bread is golden and it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
I hope this helps cover some common mistakes that can happen when baking focaccia.
- Crumbly bread – You want to the dough to be slightly sticky. Adding flour to your work surface makes the proportions off.
- Dense bread – Either the yeast is off and often I find this happen more with dried and instant rather than fresh, or, not enough rising time. You’ll know when it’s risen enough because the dough will spring back if you poke it.
- Light bread, dense tap – It needs cooking for longer.
- Fried bottom – Too much oil was used in the baking pan.
Recipe: Sourdough Focaccia
This recipe was kindly given to me and us by the LoafHacker!
He’ll be guiding you through how to make a Sourdough Focaccia. If you haven’t already, I really recommend taking a look at his Instagram page for decoration inspiration and also his YouTube channel on how to make a San Fransisco sourdough starter 😀
LoafHacker, over to you!
I’m a sourdough bread fanatic. There, I’ve said it. Specifically, I love the nice tangy San Francisco style sourdough with nice big holes. Making loaves more or less tangy, or making bigger or smaller holes, is all about adjusting the timings, temperatures and the hydration in the recipe.
While sourdough bread really isn’t that hard at all, it can seem a bit much to get going – especially if you’ve never worked with a highly hydrated (read: very wet!) dough before. That’s why focaccia is the perfect way to dip your toe in the water and see if you like it.
Just beg borrow or steal your way to a sourdough starter (everyone seems to have one these days so that shouldn’t be too hard!) and then follow the simple recipe to make a delicious focaccia at home with very little effort involved.
So why is there no kneading in the recipe below? That’s because it’s a very highly hydrated dough, so the benefits of kneading will be performed automatically by the very wet dough (I could bore you with the science… but just pretend it’s magic for now 😉
So following this recipe will let you get your hands on (literally) some very wet dough, but since it’s a tray-bake, there is no strengthening or shaping skills required. The only skills required is to pick your favourite toppings. Careful though… I’ve found this can be a very divisive question!
Start it in the morning, and have a great focaccia ready to compliment your favourite dish by dinner!
- 100g Mature Sourdough Starter
- 500g Bread flour (plain white is fine)
- 425g Water
- 10g Salt
When the starter is mature (near its peak), start the recipe…
- Combine the wet ingredients (sourdough starter and water) in one bowl
- Combine the dry ingredients (flour and salt) in a separate bowl
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until fully incorporated
- Place in a warm spot (oven with only the light on should work great!)
- Leave it for the Starter to do its job for around 4 hours in this warm environment
- Optionally, every hour, perform a “stretch and fold” where you pull up on the outer edge until near breaking point and then fold over the dough. Proceed around the bowl doing the same thing in each spot. This will build a lot of strength into the dough. This is optional though so, if it scares you, just don’t do it!
- After 4 hours, gently pour the dough into the oiled pan or glass baking dish that you will be baking the focaccia in
- Two more hours and it will be time to bake!
- An hour before baking, make sure to preheat your oven as high as it goes
- Just before baking, dip your fingers in olive oil and poke them all the way to the bottom of the pan to create the evenly spaced divots that everyone knows and loves in a focaccia
- Then pop on your favourite toppings (hints: tomatoes, olives, rosemary?)
- Don’t forget to sprinkle on course salt and drizzle on olive oil
- Pop it in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 215c/420f (preheating above this allows the bread to cook without the heating element turning on for as long as possible!)
- Bake for 30-40 minutes… but it could be more or less than this. Ultimately, just watch it after 20 minutes and take it out whenever it’s nice and brown on top and reaches your desired level of “doneness” 🙂
Who Else’s Stomach’s Are Growling!?
I really hope you enjoyed today’s post as much as I and we enjoyed writing it!
Please show off your creations by tagging us on Instagram as it’s so great to see people having great food and great fun!
Along with the daily journal posts here, each Wednesday at 12pm BST I’ll be going live on my instagram @therebalancechef to recap on the week’s progress and show you around my kitchen. Depending on the weather you might even meet my rescue hens!
The main point of this challenge is to have fun with it, learn new skills and refresh old ones.
I want to see your creations so don’t forget to tag me and show off what you’ve been doing!
I’m taking part in the Rebalance May Cookery Challenge! Check it out here http://www.therebalancechef.co.ukTweet
Connect with LoafHacker!
You’ll find LoafHacker’s YouTube and Instagram link below 😀
There’s a very good chance you’ll be hearing more from him as well because I’m starting his 14 day sourdough course soon so keep a look out!