Perfectly chewy and slathered in olive oil, this easy sourdough olive focaccia bread transports you to Italy in one bite!!
Add the bread flour, all purpose flour, salt, dry yeast, ripe sourdough starter, olive oil, and water to a stand mixer bowl with the bread dough attachment hook or a large mixing bowl. With the mixer on the first speed, mix the ingredients until it forms a sticky dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup water (with the mixer turned on) if the dough is dry and isn't too sticky. This is common in the winter as flour tends to absorb more liquid when it's cold outside, making the dough drier. If mixing by hand, mix all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until they start to come together, then place on a work surface (no need to flour), and knead until the dough comes together in a sticky ball. Add a touch of extra water and knead until combined if the dough is dry. Use a bench scraper to scrape up the excess dough and knead it back into the ball of dough.
Give the dough a fold (watch the video for how to do that) and flip over. Wipe the mixing bowl and grease with olive oil and place the dough back in it. Cover with parchment paper and place in a warm spot in your kitchen to ferment for 6-8 hours. The timing doesn't have to be exact. The longer you ferment it, the more flavor develops. You just want it to have doubled in size and be nice and puffy.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and grease with olive oil. Place the dough on the sheet pan and gently stretch with your fingers to the size of the sheet pan, being careful not to tear the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and proof for about 90 minutes, or until the top is nice and puffy. It WON'T double in size, but will be soft on the surface and will spring back a bit when it's ready. You can proof the dough on top of the oven (burners off!) with the oven turned on to 350 degrees to create a warm space for it to proof.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When it's proofed, remove the plastic wrap and drizzle olive oil on the surface and coat the top evenly with olive oil spreading gently with your hands. Gently make indentions with your fingers on the top of the dough. Sprinkle with chopped fresh rosemary and additional sea salt (salt is optional).
Bake for 22-27 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool a bit and slice the focaccia with a serrated knife and serve warm with more olive oil. YUM!
Because we are using a ripe sourdough starter in this recipe, we only need a small amount of dry yeast to help give it a nice rise in the oven without making the focaccia too sour tasting.
Rapid Rise Yeast or Dry Instant Yeast can be added with the dry ingredients and don't need to be "proofed" first with warm water.
If you can't find these types of yeast at the store, then use Active Dry Yeast. "Proof" the yeast in some warm water according to package directions. Add the water and proofed yeast to the rest of the ingredients and mix the dough.