I have made conventional focaccia in the past. They were delicious. The recipe I chose to use was complicated but the results were worth it! I have been nurturing a sourdough starter for a while now. Fanny, my starter, is doing well and as I was feeding her I was suddenly struck by the resemblance between the starter and the poolish I had used to make my previous focaccias. Would it be possible to make a foccacia using my sourdough starter instead of making a poolish or sponge?
I took 10 large tbsps (the big metal spoons not a 15 ml measure) of the starter and added 2 heaped tbsp of bread flour and about 100 ml of water and whisked the whole lot together. This I left for several hours until the whole bowl of gloop was fizzing away with life. Once vibrant with life 200 g of bread flour, 45 ml of olive oil, a big pinch of salt and another 100 ml of warm water.
Now this dough is incredibly soft, so kneading in the conventional sense won’t really work. I use a big wooden spoon and beat the dough until the gluten forms and the texture of the dough becomes smoother and looks less grainy. It took me about 60 revolutions for this to happen.
I oiled a 20cm by 30cm tin and placed (poured more like) the dough into the tin. I left the dough to rise for 2 hours. After that I folded the dough into three and left it to rise again.
Once well risen (about another hour) I made indentations in the top and drizzled over olive oil and scattered some dried Italian herbs.
The oven was then heated to 250c. Once hot a small tray of ice was added to create steam, the temp was turned down to 220 and the bread was baked for 10 minutes. After this the oven was opened to release the steam, the bread was turned round and baked for a further 10 minutes. Once golden and smelling divine, remove from the oven, place on a wire rack and hope you can leave it to cool long enough for you not to burn your mouth when eating it!