Focaccia Made with Sourdough Discard and Scrappy Toppings

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This focaccia gets its tangy flavor from sourdough discard and its leavening power from active dry yeast. An overnight cold proof in the refrigerator renders a chewier texture but you can also proof the dough at room temperature and bake it the same day (see the recipe notes for info).

Sourdough discard focaccia ingredients

This focaccia recipe calls for 1 cup (250 grams) of sourdough discard straight from the refrigerator. My discard contains 50 percent all-purpose flour and 50 percent whole wheat (and sometimes rye). That works out to 14 percent whole wheat flour in my focaccia—not a huge amount. You can use discard made of all-purpose flour only.

Speaking of conversions, go here for directions to sourdough-ize recipes. You can’t convert just any baked good into a sourdough version, however. Good contenders include recipes that call for flour and liquid, such as pizza dough, tortillas, yeast breads and so on.

Just before baking, top your prepared dough with little bits of produce on hand to reduce wasted food. (Sourdough discard focaccia doesn’t go uneaten!) I topped the focaccia pictured in this post with cherry tomatoes, green onions, parsley and sweet basil from the garden. Raiding the refrigerator, I also found a small yellow pepper, mushrooms and yellow zucchini that a friend had given me. (It’s that time of year.) I cut my toppings up, spread them across my doughy canvas and sprinkled everything with salt. The focaccia tastes great plain as well though.

Handling the dough

This sourdough discard focaccia dough is very wet. If you have a stand mixer, you may want to use that to mix and knead the dough. If you knead it by hand (which I do when I make this), sprinkle the work surface and dough with a bit of flour to prevent sticking as needed. But try to add only as much flour as necessary in order to avoid altering the texture of the dough.

A slab of sourdough discard focaccia sits on a cutting board. It has been decorated with cherry tomatoes and herbs. The middle has been sliced into three pieces that lie on their sides to show the interior crumb.
Crumb shot
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5 from 1 vote

Focaccia with Sourdough Discard and Scrappy Toppings

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoons coarse salt plus more for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup warm water 105° to 115°F
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus more for greasing the proofing bowl
  • 1 cup unfed sourdough discard straight from the refrigerator
  • butter or coconut oil to grease the pan
  • toppings whole or chopped kalamata olives, sliced shallots, grape tomatoes, sliced bell peppers, fresh rosemary and so on

Instructions

  • Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a wire whisk or fork to combine.
  • In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water. Set aside.
  • Once the yeast mixture has become bubbly and foamy—about 10 to 15 minutes—stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  • Add the yeast mixture and the sourdough discard to the dry ingredients. Mix well with a fork or Danish dough whisk. Knead the dough in the bowl a few times to incorporate all the flour. The dough will be quite wet.
  • Turn the shaggy dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for 4 minutes until smooth. If the dough sticks, sprinkle a bit more flour on the work surface and on the dough as you knead it. Avoid adding too much additional flour as it will alter the texture of the dough.
  • Grease the bowl with olive oil, return the dough to it, turn the dough upward to coat the entire ball and cover the bowl with a towel, plate or lid. Let proof for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Generously grease a 9- by 13-inch metal cake pan or glass baking dish with butter or coconut oil. Olive oil alone may not prevent your focaccia from sticking to the pan, whereas a barrier created by the butter or coconut oil will. After greasing the pan, pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and spread it evenly around the bottom. 
  • Punch down the dough and pull the edges toward the deflated center. Turn the dough out of the bowl and into the pan. Roll the dough upward to coat the entire surface in oil. This will prevent the dough from drying out as it proofs. Gently stretch the dough toward the corners of the pan. It won’t fill the pan at this point. Cover with an inverted baking sheet and refrigerate overnight for at least 8 hours and up to 16. The dough will double in size. (See Note on same-day baking.)
  • At the end of the cold proof, remove the pan from the refrigerator. Let it sit at room temperature while the oven heats up in the next step (about 15 minutes).
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Just before baking, drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the dough and slather it across the top with your hand. Beginning in the center of the dough, gently press in your fingertips to dimple it, carefully stretching the dough toward the edge of the pan. Dimple and stretch in the opposite direction, filling the pan evenly. Try not to deflate the dough as you work. Lay toppings across the dough or press them gently into the dimples. Sprinkle the focaccia dough and toppings with salt.  
  • Bake at 425°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack for 20 minutes before slicing. 

Notes

  1. Be sure to slice and chop all of your toppings while the oven heats up so you can create your design quickly.
  2. If you prefer to bake the same day, allow the focaccia to rise in the pan, covered, at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, until nearly doubled in size. Follow the directions as written for baking.
  3. All of my sourdough recipes call for a 100 percent hydration sourdough starter, meaning the starter contains equal parts water and flour by weight (not volume).

My cookbook is a finalist for a cookbook award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals and has been shortlisted for a Taste Canada award. You can check out the book here.

4 Replies to “Focaccia Made with Sourdough Discard and Scrappy Toppings”

  1. Betty McIntosh says: Reply

    This sounds fairly easy, I’ve never made bread by hand. Once upon a time bread machines were all the rage and I did use ours a lot. I will challenge myself to at least try this year. I have a very busy schedule so there’s lots of things i don’t take on.
    I’ve baked all my life otherwise, like all the females in my family before me. Thanks for all you knowledge and inspiration you post and your book.

  2. Beautiful texture! I’m going to make this one Anne-Marie!

  3. Nicola Morley says: Reply

    All the family absolutely loved this focaccia recipe! Thank you so much for sharing, I made a basil & pine nut pesto to go with it and topped it with courgette, cherry tomatoes, red onion and basil. Completely delicious

    1. I’m so glad your family liked it! Thank you for letting me know. The pesto and toppings sound amazing!

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