Focaccia (93% hydration)

Focaccia is one of my favourite breads to make. It has a super high hydration (93% in this case), but because it’s baked in a pan it doesn’t require any bread shaping skills. The possibilities for toppings are limitless, and it’s pretty good plain as well. Personally, I like baking focaccia in a lasagna pan, because it’s smaller than a sheet tray and has higher sides so the resulting loaf is dramatically thick. Eat it on its own, or even slice it lengthwise for sandwiches. You can’t go wrong!

Ingredients
50g water – (1)
25g olive oil
15g salt

550g water – (2)
150g levain (see tips below if you don’t have an active starter)
2g instant yeast
650g high gluten bread flour (100%)
1g diastatic malt powder

Oil Mixture
115g of oil
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 sprigs of oregano
2 sprigs of sage
2 sprigs of thyme
4 pitted olives, diced*

*We happened to have olives in the fridge. You can add anything you like really, but wait until mid-way through the bake to add items that will be quick to burn (e.g. onions, tender herbs).

Instructions
1. Stir together salt, water (1) and olive oil and set aside.
2. In a stand mixer, mix bread flour, malt powder, water (2), instant yeast, liquid levain to a shaggy mass; autolyse for 20 – 30 minutes.
3. Mix on stir (lowest speed) in stand mixer for 4 minutes.
Mix on speed 4 in stand mixer for another 4 – 6 minutes, or until medium gluten development is reached.
4. Turn the stand mixer on low, and slowly drizzle the salt, water, and olive oil mixture from step 1, continuing to mix.
5. Once the salt water and olive oil mixture is incorporated, return to speed 4 and mix until medium gluten is achieved once again.
6. Bulk Ferment for 3 to 4 hours. Perform a stretch and fold after the first hour, and every half hour after that.

7. Transfer dough into standard half tray (12″ x 17″)or baking pan (9″ x 13″).
8. Stipple the dough with your fingers, trying to push the dough towards to edges so it’s evenly distributed.
9. Rest for one hour and stipple again.
10. Rest for another 2-3 hours.
11. At least 30 min before the end of the final rest (step 10), preheat oven to 450°F.
12. Add your toppings (now or at some point during the bake, depending on what it is).
13. Sprinkle a bit of salt on top and bake in medium rack for 35 minutes.
14. Once baked, remove from pan immediately onto a cooling rack, at this point you can drizzle with fancy olive oil if you have some.

Helpful Tips

  • If you want to incorporate some of your topping into the crumb of the dough, you can pour some of the mixture (e.g., the herb oil) onto the dough every time you do a stretch and fold.
  • We achieved best results in a 9″ x 13″ pan, baked in a convection oven.
  • If you don’t have an active levain, you can add 75g of water and 75g of flour to the original recipe and increase the amount of instant yeast to 2-1/2 tsp.
Here’s a YouTube video on the process of making the focaccia. 

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