If you have limited experience baking bread or sourdough, this recipe is about as forgiving as they come. The technique teaches you the basics of bread-making, from making the levain and autolyzing to folding. The result is thick and crunchy focaccia that is deliciously olive-oil-laden, like your favorite deep-dish pizza.

Martha Stewart Living, March 2021

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Credit: Johnny Miller

Recipe Summary test

prep:
20 mins
Yield:
Serves 10 to 12
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Ingredients

Levain
Dough

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Levain: On day 1 at night, mix together starter, flour, and water in a large bowl. Cover with a damp kitchen towel or a large plate and let stand at room temperature 10 to 12 hours.

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  • Dough: On day 2 in the morning, make an autolyze: In a large bowl, dissolve levain in water. Add both flours and stir to combine. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

  • Sprinkle autolyze with salt; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Pinch and fold several times to incorporate. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

  • With dampened hands, grab underside of dough, stretch it out, and fold it back over itself. Rotate bowl one quarter-turn and repeat 6 times. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. Repeat process 4 more times (about 3 hours total). After final folding, you should have a soft, elastic dough.

  • Drizzle remaining 3 tablespoons oil evenly into a 9 1/2-by-12 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet or a 9-by-12-inch baking pan. Scrape dough onto sheet and pat out to flatten, pushing it into edges. (If it springs back, cover and let stand 10 minutes, then continue until dough fills pan.) Drape with plastic wrap. (Dough can be made to this point and refrigerated up to 24 hours.)

  • Let dough stand until it is bubbly and soft and almost reaches top of pan, about 2 hours (or 3, if it's been refrigerated). Preheat oven to 450°F. Use your fingers to make dents all over top of dough. Drizzle generously with oil and sprinkle with flaky salt. Season tomatoes with fine salt and scatter over dough. Sprinkle with rosemary.

  • Place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on lowest rack (to catch any oil overflow). Bake focaccia on center rack until golden brown and cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack 10 minutes, then transfer directly to rack and let cool completely. (You may need to run a spatula underneath to release it.) Focaccia is best served the day it's made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.

Cook's Notes

"Levain" is the French word for sourdough and in this recipe, it is the first step taken to make sourdough bread: A specific amount of starter, flour, and water is mixed together, left to ferment overnight, then used com­pletely in the baking process. To ensure your starter is ready to bake with, always feed it a day before you plan to mix your levain. If you are very confident it's lively enough—it has reliably doubled in volume after feeding and is stretchy and webby—you can replace the levain in the following recipes with fed starter equal in weight to the parts of the levain combined.

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