This flavorful, easy sourdough focaccia is at home at a casual supper or an elegant meal. You can customize the toppings or keep it simple with salt and rosemary. It's a perfect way to use your sourdough starter discard!
Why this recipe works
- An easy focaccia bread dough that uses unfed sourdough starter
- You can customize the toppings or keep it simple with salt and rosemary
- A flavorful bread with the subtle tang of sourdough
Isn’t it wonderful when one recipe can yield so many different variations? This easy sourdough focaccia recipe is made using sourdough starter discard (that's the starter that you remove from your starter container when you feed it).
Even though I do use commercial yeast in the dough, the sourdough starter discard still lends its tangy flavor adding more depth to the item. Yummm….
Focus on focaccia
Hailing from Italy, focaccia is a flat oven-baked bread similar in style to pizza, but generally shaped and topped differently.
Focaccia bread can be made thick enough to slice in half for a sandwich or thin to just be a vehicle for its toppings (like a bread-based tart). I generally make my homemade focaccia in between those two extremes, but it’s really dependent on the amount of dough and the size of the pan.
My basic bread dough recipe has an easy-to-remember 5 : 3 recipe ratio of 5 parts flour to 3 parts water (by weight), with some salt and yeast added. I’ve made sourdough pretzels, bagels, and naan bread with great success using this ratio, adapted for using sourdough starter.
You'll need the following ingredients to make this sourdough discard focaccia recipe recipe:
Toppings: Focaccia toppings at their most basic are olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse salt.
Flavorings: I like to make sourdough focaccia bread with rosemary by chopping it up with the salt. Chopping the rosemary with the salt helps to release the essential oils in the rosemary as well as break up the coarseness of the salt.
Some other ideas could be other chopped fresh herbs (thyme and oregano come to mind), roasted and chopped onion or garlic, drained and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives, chopped…uhm...I could go on but you get the idea. Whatever you choose, be sure to chop them into ¼-inch or smaller pieces to ease in distribution and biting.
If you start adding meats or cheeses, then this to me becomes a pizza, and that’s a whole other ball o’...uhm...dough.
See the recipe card for a full list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make sourdough focaccia bread
Step 1: Make the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sourdough starter discard, water, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt, and yeast.
Start with the lesser amount of water to account for the humidity of the day. If the dough is too dry, add in 1 tablespoon water as needed until the dough is the right consistency.
Mix the dough on Low speed for about a minute, then turn up the speed to Medium-Low and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes (photo 1).
Step 2: Let the dough rise
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and put in a warm place to rest until doubled, about 3 hours (photo 2). The oven with just the light on works well.
If you want to develop the sourdough flavor even more, you can put it in the refrigerator after this first rise for up to 3 days. Let it come to room temperature for about an hour before shaping.
Step 3: Shape the dough
Lightly brush a baking stone with olive oil. Press the dough out into a rectangle, or your desired shape (photo 3).
Step 4: Proof & dimple the dough
Cover the dough with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 400 °F.
Brush more olive oil on the top of the dough. Dimple the dough using 2 fingers, then sprinkle on your toppings (photo 4).
Step 5: Bake the focaccia
Bake the focaccia for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove it from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack (photo 5). Allow it to cool completely before slicing.
Step 6: Slice the focaccia
Slice the focaccia to your desired size (photo 6). I sometimes make croutons from the trimmings, but more often than not I just nibble them while I'm slicing!
Sourdough focaccia is best served fresh. It can be stored for several days in an airtight container at room temperature. Note that the salt will melt into the bread and the bread itself will not be as soft.
For longer term storage, freeze the cut pieces in an airtight container for up to 1 month, or the whole bread, well wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, for up to 6 months.
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions you might have...
We haven't really talked about the type of baking pan to use. I use a well-seasoned medium baking stone (about 8- x 12-inches) and I push the dough out to the edges. This produces a focaccia that's about 1½ inches high.
You can vary the thickness by varying the amount of dough you make and/or the size of the pan you use. If you don't have access to a baking stone, a quarter sheet baking pan or half sheet baking pan lined with a Silpat silicone mat or parchment paper works well. Just shape the dough as thin or thick as you'd like.
According to Seasoned Advice, those dimples are there to catch some of the olive oil, improving the crust’s taste and texture. I’m not going to argue!
Pro Tip: You can leave out the commercial yeast
If you don't want use to commercial yeast in this sourdough focaccia recipe, replace the yeast in this recipe with ½ cup (114 grams) of active, fed starter, and reduce the amount of flour by about ½ cup (57 grams) and water by about ¼ cup (57 grams). The rising time will be longer (about double) for both the first and second rises.
Light, airy, tangy, delicious
This is the best sourdough focaccia recipe around. Light and airy, the bread is flavorful from the olive oil, rosemary, and salt, with the subtle tang from the sourdough discard. When you customize it with your topping choices, you can pair it with your meal.
The wonderful thing about sourdough focaccia bread with rosemary is that it can go from a week-night supper to an elegant dinner party with ease. We've even used it as a dipper for cheese fondue!
Plus, its recipe ratio is simple to remember (5 : 3 flour to water). You can easily figure out how much extra flour and water to use depending on how much discard you have (keep that kitchen scale handy!).
I hope you’ll keep this sourdough discard focaccia recipe in your back pocket for those times you want a use for your sourdough starter discard. You’ll be amazed at what you can make!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
When you maintain a sourdough starter, you have a dilemma. What do you do with your unfed sourdough starter discard? I've got lots of suggestions for sweet and savory ways to use your fed sourdough starter and the sourdough starter discard. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Good news for sourdough bakers! I've published an e-book that allows you to discover a new method to feed your starter with less flour, making your baking both sustainable and scrumptious. Learn how to have the right amount of starter for your favorite sourdough bread recipe, and explore various bread baking pans to level up your baking game. Plus, dive into a bonus recipe for a naturally-leavened sourdough bread using unfed starter that will fit into your busy schedule for fresh bread any time. Head over to my shop and get your copy today!
And if you sign up to receive my weekly featured recipe email, I'll send you the recipe for Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread. Enjoy!
I hope you like this recipe! Do you have any questions I can help with? Let me know! Or, if you made the recipe, I'd love for you to leave a comment and rating. Thanks!
Sourdough Focaccia with Rosemary
For the dough
- 2¾ cups all purpose flour, or more as needed
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard, unfed, at room temperature, see Recipe Notes
- ½ to ⅔ cup water, warmed between 100°F to 110°F, see Recipe Notes
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast, or rapid rise, see Recipe Notes
For the toppings
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or amount desired
- extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sourdough starter discard, water, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt, and yeast. Start with the lesser amount of water to account for the humidity of the day. If the dough is too dry, add in 1 tablespoon water as needed until the dough is the right consistency.
- Mix the dough on Low speed for about a minute, then turn up the speed to Medium-Low and knead until the dough is smooth, about 5 minutes.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and put in a warm place to rest until doubled, about 2 to 3 hours. The oven with just the light on works well.
- If you’re baking on the same day, proceed to the next step. Otherwise, refrigerate the dough, tightly covered in the bowl, until you’re ready to bake (up to 3 days). This will also develop more flavor. Allow the dough to come to room temperature for an hour before continuing.
- Finely chop the fresh rosemary with the salt, or prepare the toppings of your choice. See recipe notes for some other topping suggestions.
- Lightly brush a medium baking stone with olive oil. Press the dough out into a rectangle. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 400 °F.
- Brush more olive oil on the top of the dough. Dimple the dough using 2 fingers, then sprinkle on your toppings. Bake the focaccia for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the focaccia from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Serve with olive oil for dipping if desired and enjoy!
- Storage instructions: Sourdough focaccia is best served fresh. It can be stored for several days in an airtight container at room temperature. Note that the salt will melt into the bread and the bread itself will not be as soft.
- For longer term storage, freeze the cut pieces in an airtight container for up to 1 month, or the whole bread, well wrapped in plastic wrap and foil, for up to 6 months.