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- What is Focaccia?
- Baker’s Percentage Table
- 🛠 Tools Needed for Spelt Sourdough Focaccia:
- 🛒 Ingredients Needed for Spelt Sourdough Focaccia:
- 🧑🍳 How to Make Spelt Sourdough Focaccia
- How to Store Sourdough Focaccia:
- How to Serve Sourdough Focaccia:
- Spelt Sourdough Focaccia FAQs:
- Spelt Sourdough Focaccia
- Other Recipes You Might Like:
This spelt sourdough focaccia is one of my favorite types of bread to make because it’s versatile, fluffy, easy and satisfying to make, and of course, is extremely delicious.
Made with spelt flour, an ancient whole grain, this spelt sourdough focaccia has a superb nutty flavor that doesn’t compromise the fluffiness of the focaccia. And for the best flavor, you can rest the dough overnight.
Focaccia’s been gaining popularity in recent years with multitudes of restaurants and bakeries featuring the classic Italian bread. It’s known for its crispy exterior, chewy and fluffy interior, and delicious flavor, which comes from using lots of olive oil and the sourdough starter used here.
Spelt focaccia is a versatile bread that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for sandwiches, pizzas, and more. And I know it’s a bread that many have requested here on the website.
Lastly, focaccia is a fantastic beginner’s recipe because it’s hands-off compared to making sourdough bread, requiring no complex shaping techniques, scoring, and only a few basic ingredients.
What is Focaccia?
Focaccia is a leavened Italian flatbread that’s flavored with olive oil.
The focaccia dough resembles pizza dough because of its high hydration and basic ingredients. However, focaccia is generally fluffier than pizza dough once baked because of the large amount of yeast used. Because of its ease and similarities to pizza dough, you can use the same dough to make a sheet pan pizza with any toppings you choose!
Perhaps the most fun part of making focaccia, which gives it its distinctive crevices and air pockets, is dimpling olive oil on top of the dough to create various crunchy textures and lots of bubbles in the dough. It’s a sensual experience best illustrated in Samin Nosrat’s “Fat” episode of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
Toppings for focaccia vary, but the simplest toppings are salt and herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage. Other popular focaccia toppings include olives, tomatoes, garlic, and sometimes a cheese such as feta.
I bake this focaccia in a 9×13” baking pan with higher sides, but you’re welcome to use a quarter sheet pan (also 9×13”), double the recipe and make it in a half-sheet pan (13×18”), or bake the recipe in two 9” cake pans.
Baker’s Percentage Table
I include a baker’s percentage chart to quickly scale a recipe up or down.
With baker’s percentages, the total weight of all flour in the recipe is 100%. The other ingredients are noted in relation to the total weight of flour. This is why the percentages below will add up to over 100%.
If you want to learn more, the King Arthur website has a more detailed reference page on why and how baker’s percentages are calculated.
|Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Note: 20g of each flour, 40g of water, and the 40g starter are for the levain. If you do not want to build a levain, use about 120g of sourdough starter instead.
🛠 Tools Needed for Spelt Sourdough Focaccia:
Click the links below for my tool recommendations.
- Baking Scale
- 9×13 Baking Pan
- I like this 9×13-inch USA baking pan because the focaccia doesn’t stick at all! Otherwise, you likely will need to add parchment paper in the bottom of your pan. I use this pan for my Sourdough Dinner Rolls with Rosemary, too.
- Other baking options include a 9×13-inch sheet pan (a quarter sheet pan), to double the recipe and bake in a half-sheet pan (13×18″), or bake the recipe in two 9-inch cake pans.
- Stand Mixer (optional but recommended)
- A stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment makes mixing the focaccia dough much more effortless. However, you can mix the dough by hand instead. Just be prepared that it will be very sticky.
- Brød and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer (optional but helpful)
- My home tends to stay cool, so I proof all of my breads in this convenient proofing box that can also act as a slow cooker.
🛒 Ingredients Needed for Spelt Sourdough Focaccia:
The ingredients to make this spelt focaccia are really simple, akin to making sourdough bread. This is a vegan sourdough focaccia, and I opt to use no honey or sugar in the recipe for sweetener. However, you can add a teaspoon of sugar or honey to this recipe if you’d like to.
Because of its simplicity, the olive oil flavor and spelt flour really shine here! I prefer simple toppings to highlight good olive oil and the spelt, but feel free to mix and match toppings. There’s a list of suggestions at the end that I think are all excellent with this focaccia.
Click on the links below for my ingredient recommendations.
- Bread Flour
- This focaccia is 50% bread flour because it has a high protein content that helps the dough rise tall and gives focaccia its soft and chewy texture.
- If you don’t have bread flour, use high-quality all-purpose flour.
- Spelt Flour
- Spelt is an ancient wheat grain that hasn’t been altered through selective breeding. Its flavor is nutty, and a little sweet, but mild. Spelt is extremely extensible; you’ll notice this once the dough is mixed.
- If you don’t have spelt flour, use an equal amount of whole wheat or einkorn flour instead. The focaccia will be a little more “wheaty”, but will still give you tons of flavor.
- Sourdough Starter
- Use active sourdough starter in this recipe. Sourdough discard will not have the leavening power needed for the focaccia.
- You don’t need a spelt sourdough starter for this recipe. Instead, make a levain with 50/50 flour and spelt to mimic the ingredients in the focaccia dough. However, if you do have a spelt sourdough starter, use it here!
- No sourdough starter? learn how to make one in a week with my day-by-day guide.
- Kosher Salt
- Warm Water
- Using warm water will speed fermentation along. Don’t use hot water or the heat can kill the sourdough yeasts. Aim for the water to be less than 100ºF (38ºC).
- This focaccia dough is high-hydration at 87%, but is easier to work with because you’re not shaping the dough like typical sourdough bread. If you’re looking for other high-hydration breads, check out my Sourdough Pan de Cristal (Glass Bread) recipe at 100% hydration!
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Using good-quality olive oil will take this focaccia from being good to great! It’s the only fat in this recipe and adds a ton of flavor to the finished product. A good quality common brand that’s relatively affordable is California Olive Ranch.
- Another quality indicator is to look for cold-pressed olive oil instead of expeller-pressed.
Focaccia Topping Ideas
- Salt and herbs: Keep it simple with a sprinkle of flaky salt like Maldon and any fresh, hard herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage.
- Garlic and rosemary: Sliced garlic and rosemary is a classic focaccia topping! You can’t go wrong here.
- Olives, tomatoes, and feta: This is an appetizing combo for a more Mediterranean or pizza focaccia. I like using halved Castelvetrano olives because they’re meatier and buttery, but Kalamata olives are fine too. Opt for small cherry tomatoes since they’re less watery.
- Focaccia bread art: A popular trend lately has been to make garden designs and focaccia bread art with various herbs and vegetables. For example, you can use asparagus for grass, tomatoes, onions, and peppers to make flowers, parsley stems as the flower stems, and sage for leaves.
🧑🍳 How to Make Spelt Sourdough Focaccia
Follow this visual and detailed recipe guide as you bake this spelt sourdough focaccia.
1. Build the Levain
Mix 40g of sourdough starter, 20g of bread flour, 20g of spelt flour and 40g of water in an empty jar.
Cover and set it in a warm location (75-80ºF) for about five hours until it is doubled and bubbly.
If you’d prefer to skip making a levain, use about 120g of ripe sourdough starter instead.
2. Mix the Focaccia Dough
Once the levain is ripe, add the following ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with the dough hook attachment:
- 210g of bread flour
- 210g of spelt flour
- 8g of salt
- All of the levain (or 120g of active sourdough starter)
- 360g of warm water
Begin mixing the dough on low speed until all of the flour is hydrated. You may need to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a flexible spatula to ensure that all of the flour is incorporated.
Increase to medium speed and mix the dough for about ten minutes. The dough is finished mixing when it’s smooth, slides off the dough hook, doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl, and passes the windowpane test.
The windowpane test will tell you if your dough has developed enough gluten. To test, pull a piece of dough between your fingers and stretch it into a thin membrane. If the dough tears immediately, then it needs more mixing. A properly mixed dough pulls without tearing and allows light through like a windowpane.
*Note: No, you don’t HAVE to use a stand mixer here, but I promise it will make mixing the dough so much easier. This is a very high-hydration dough (about 87%), so the mixer helps to develop the gluten faster.
Spelt flour is very extensible (it has less gluten than typical flour), so if you’re mixing by hand, the dough will start off extremely sticky. It takes about 10 minutes of mechanical mixing here, so mixing by hand will take longer to pass the windowpane test.
3. Bulk Fermentation and Folds
Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil (13g) into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Then, transfer the dough to the bowl, cover it, and place it in a warm location (75-80ºF) to proof for about 4 to 5 hours.
At the end of bulk fermentation, the dough will at least double in size and be full of air. There should be some visible gas bubbles on the surface of the dough.
Because of the high hydration of this dough, it will proof much faster than typical sourdough bread recipes. The other pro of making focaccia is that you can’t over-proof this dough! If it goes a little too long, it won’t affect the final outcome of the focaccia.
Please note that if the dough is in a cooler location, it will take longer to proof.
During bulk fermentation, perform a series of stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the first couple of hours (3-4 in total). The stretch and folds will help strengthen the dough and incorporate some olive oil into it.
The folds are especially crucial if you hand-mixed this dough, to continue strengthening it.
4. Overnight Proof
At this point, refrigerate the dough overnight and for up to 48 hours.
The cold-proof allows you to bake it later and improves flavor by slowing down the fermentation.
As it proofs overnight, it may not rise much, which is completely normal.
5. Final Proof
The next day, spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (26g) on the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan. If you’re not using a non-stick pan, add a piece of parchment paper first to the bottom so the focaccia will release more easily.
Next, release the cold focaccia dough from the bowl into middle of the oiled baking pan. Then, use your fingers to spread the dough out in the pan. Try to reach into the corners of the pan. Since the pan is greasy, it might be hard for the dough to keep its shape, but you’ll get another chance to spread it out later when we add the toppings.
This process deflates much of the dough’s gas, so the focaccia benefits from a second and final proof.
Set the focaccia in a warm location to proof again for a few hours. Typically, the final proofing only takes about three to four hours as much of the proofing took place during bulk fermentation.
Final proofing is complete when the dough has doubled in height and feels full of air with visible gas bubbles.
6. Topping and Bake
Preheat the oven to 450ºF (232ºC). The hot temperature will ensure that the focaccia rises tall and gets a crispy exterior.
Drizzle the last two tablespoons of olive oil (26g) on top of the dough.
Now for the fun part! Use your fingers to dimple the olive oil into the dough, creating dozens of crevices all throughout the dough. Bubbles will pop up in the dough, which you’ll want to keep for lots of texture once the focaccia bakes.
Evenly sprinkle any toppings all over the top of the focaccia. I like using flaky salt and chopped, fresh hard herbs like thyme, rosemary, or sage for a simple topping. See more focaccia topping variations here.
Bake the focaccia for 20 minutes, or until the exterior is dark brown and crispy.
Baking focaccia at a high temperature for this long will result in a crispy exterior and a fluffy, soft interior.
Cool slightly on a wire rack, lift the focaccia out of the pan (or lift from the parchment paper if using), and slice the focaccia while warm.
How to Store Sourdough Focaccia:
Sourdough focaccia is made with simple ingredients that store well for many days. While best the day it’s made, you can store focaccia at room temperature wrapped in aluminum foil for 3-4 days.
After a few hours or the next day, reheat slices in a toaster oven.
Furthermore, you can easily freeze slices of focaccia to serve later. Slice the focaccia and store the slices in freezer-safe bags for up to a few months. Reheat before serving.
How to Serve Sourdough Focaccia:
Focaccia is best the day it’s made and is best served warm. This ensures the focaccia has a crispy crust and a fluffy interior that doesn’t dry out.
You can serve focaccia many ways! It’s great as a side with other Italian dishes, quiche, salads, cheese or charcuterie boards, etc.
Another favorite way of enjoying focaccia is as a sandwich bread. Slice pieces in half for a breakfast sandwich with eggs and cheese, or serve as a lunch sandwich with your favorite deli meat or veggies.
Spelt Sourdough Focaccia FAQs:
Can I double this recipe?
Yes, you can easily double this focaccia recipe. Simply double all of the ingredients and bake the focaccia in a half-sheet pan (13×18″).
Can I use this focaccia dough for focaccia pizza?
Sure! This focaccia will create a thick-crust pizza. Follow the same steps, but add a pizza sauce and pizza toppings of your choice after proofing.
Why is my sourdough focaccia dense?
There are a couple of reasons why focaccia comes out dense. A dense focaccia means that the dough likely did not proof long enough or that it did not develop enough gluten during mixing. Gluten development is what makes focaccia rise tall and have a chewy, fluffy texture.
Can I use over proofed bread dough to make focaccia?
If you overproof your sourdough bread dough, you can use it to make focaccia! Dump the over-proofed dough into a baking pan and follow the same instructions as above.
Can I use sourdough discard to make focaccia?
Use active sourdough starter for this sourdough focaccia recipe for the best results. Sourdough discard may not leaven the focaccia properly.
View more sourdough discard recipes here.
Can I use whole wheat to make this focaccia?
Yes, you can substitute the spelt flour in this recipe to make whole wheat focaccia.
Spelt Sourdough Focaccia
- Mix the levain ingredients together in a jar. Cover and set in a warm location (75-80ºF) for about five hours until doubled and bubbly.If you'd prefer to skip making a levain, use 120g of sourdough starter instead.20 grams Bread Flour, 40 grams Water, 40 grams Sourdough Starter, 20 grams Spelt Flour
- Add all of the focaccia dough ingredients (minus the olive oil) to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.Mix on low speed to hydrate all of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate. Increase to medium speed and mix for 10 minutes. The dough is finished mixing when it's smooth, slides off the dough hook, doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl, and passes the windowpane test.210 grams Bread Flour, 210 grams Spelt Flour, 8 grams Kosher Salt, Levain, 360 grams Water
- Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then, transfer the dough to the bowl, cover it, and place it in a warm location (75-80ºF) for bulk fermentation. During bulk fermentation, perform at least three stretch and folds on the dough, spaced 30 minutes apart.Proof the dough for about four hours total, or until doubled in size and full of bubbles.66 grams Olive Oil
- Place the dough in the refrigerator to proof overnight and up to 48 hours.
- The next day, spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan. If you're not using a non-stick pan, place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan.Release the focaccia dough from the bowl into middle of the oiled baking pan and use your fingers to spread the dough out in the pan, reaching into the corners of the pan.Set the focaccia in a warm location to proof again for a few hours. Typically, the final proofing only takes about three to four hours.Final proofing is complete when the dough has doubled in height and feels full of air with visible gas bubbles.
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF (232ºC).Drizzle the last two tablespoons of olive oil on top of the dough. Use your fingers to dimple the olive oil into the dough, creating dozens of crevices all throughout the dough.Evenly sprinkle any toppings all over the top of the focaccia.Bake the focaccia for 20 minutes, or until the exterior is dark brown and crispy.Toppings