Sourdough Rosemary Focaccia

The only focaccia recipe you will ever need! Bakes up beautifully to a golden brown, and the sourdough discard adds complex flavor. Don’t wait to try this recipe!

I ordered Girl Scout Cookies this year for the first time in almost 20 years. It was difficult to find them in NYC if you didn’t know someone with a daughter in Girl Scouts. I even used an app a few years ago that was supposed to help you track down a location in your neighborhood where you could buy cookies. I was so excited to finally buy some, but when I showed up (I think it was at a Rite-Aid?) the employees had no idea what I was talking about. Was I catfished by a Girl Scout?? I will never know.

The daughter of one of my best friends sold them this year, so I promptly ordered six boxes (ya gotta support girls!). Almost all of the flavors taste the way I remembered them as a kid, except for the Thin Mints. I swear they are but a wee morsel of the size they used to be! At the very least, I remember the exterior coating of chocolate being much thicker. Well, I remedied that recently when I dipped an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in dark chocolate (one of my favorite past times is coating treats in dark chocolate). NOW, they taste the way I remember them. If you haven’t tried this, I strongly recommend it.

several pieces of focaccia that have been sliced into and piled on top of each other
rosemary focaccia baked to a golden brown in a sheet pan

If you are like me (and the millions of other people around the world) who started making sourdough at the beginning of the pandemic, you quickly learned that there is a thing called “sourdough discard”. Essentially, it is the excess starter that you remove before each feeding. Depending on how often you make a loaf of sourdough, you could end up with quite a bit of discard after a while. Of course, you could throw it directly into the trash can, but you really shouldn’t – there are so many great ways to use your discard! I keep mine in a covered bowl in the refrigerator, and use it anytime I bake something and want to add an element of tanginess, or a more complex flavor, to a recipe. The general rule is, for every 1 cup of discard that you add to a recipe, you should subtract ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of any liquid in the recipe. Part of the fun of using discard is that you get to control how much added depth of flavor you want to add, and that will determine how much discard you use. If I have confused you, please fee free to ask any questions in the comments section!

three cut pieces of rosemary focaccia piled high on a white plate

This focaccia recipe is inspired by one created in bon appétit magazine. I’ve tried several different recipes but this one bakes up beautifully every time. By adding the sourdough discard, it adds a slight tanginess to the bread that is oh-so-subtle. I love adding rosemary to my focaccia, but if you are not a fan of the herb, you can simply leave it out, or add your favorite herb instead. Don’t be afraid of the amount of olive oil used in this recipe; I promise it needs it! If you cut back on the oil, your focaccia will be too dry. I really enjoy making paninis with my focaccia, and the flavor combinations are endless! Let me know what you think, and if you haven’t already subscribed, please be sure to do so!

close up of golden focaccia topped with rosemary and coarse sea salt

Sourdough Rosemary Focaccia

The only focaccia recipe you will ever need! Bakes up beautifully to a golden brown, and the sourdough discard adds complex flavor. Don't wait to try this recipe!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 12 hrs
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Snack
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 5 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sourdough discard*
  • tsp. active dry yeast from one ¼-oz. packet
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt
  • 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil divided, plus more for greasing and drizzling
  • 2 tbsp. rosemary roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. flaky sea salt

Instructions
 

  • Combine flour, room-temperature water, and sourdough discard in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed, scraping down sides and hook as needed to incorporate any dry flour, until a shaggy dough forms. Remove dough hook and cover bowl with plastic. Let sit while you prepare the yeast (you can leave the dough in this state up to 2 hours).
  • Stir yeast, sugar, and ½ cup warm water with a fork in a small bowl to dissolve. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Pour yeast mixture into stand mixer bowl and mix on low speed until dough absorbs all additional water, about 1 minute (mixing on low speed will prevent liquid from splashing over the sides). Add sea salt and continue to mix, increasing speed to medium, until dough is extremely elastic and very sticky (it will look more like a thick batter and will start to slap sides of bowl), about 5 minutes.
  • Pour 3 Tbsp. oil into a large bowl and swirl to coat sides. Scrape in dough with a large spatula or flexible bench scraper. Cover and place in a warm spot until dough is doubled in volume, 2–3 hours.
  • Drizzle 2 Tbsp. oil over a 18×13″ sheet pan and use a pastry brush or your fingertips to rub all over bottom and sides. Using large spatula or flexible bench scraper, fold dough inside bowl a couple of times to deflate, then scrape onto prepared baking sheet. Using oiled hands, lift up dough and fold over onto itself in half, then rotate baking sheet 90° and fold in half again. Cover dough with a piece of well-oiled plastic and let rest 10 minutes to let gluten relax.
  • Uncover and go back in with oiled hands, gently stretching dough (to avoid tearing) across length and width of baking sheet in an even layer, working all the way to edges and into corners. If dough starts to spring back, let sit 5–10 minutes and start again. Cover again with same piece of oiled plastic and chill at least 8 hours and up to 24.
  • Let sheet pan sit in a warm spot until dough is puffed and bubbly and nearly doubled in height, 45–65 minutes. Meanwhile, place a rack in center of oven; preheat to 450°.
  • Remove plastic and drizzle dough generously with more oil. Oil hands again and press fingertips firmly into dough, pushing down all the way to bottom of pan to dimple all over. Sprinkle with rosemary and flaky sea salt.
  • Bake focaccia until surface is deep golden brown all over, 25–35 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Slide a thin metal spatula underneath focaccia to loosen from sheet pan (it may stick in a couple of places, so really use those muscles) and transfer to a wire rack. Let cool completely before cutting as desired.
  • Tightly wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.

Notes

*If not using discard, simply add ½ cup flour and ½ cup water to mixture to replace discard.
Focaccia can be stored in the freezer (in a Ziploc freezer bag) for up to 3 months.
Keyword focaccia, rosemary, sourdough

5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this!

  2. Barb Haner

    5 stars
    Hi MaryAnne, There are several things I want to comment on. First of all, your pictures of the bread are amazing! It looks like you can eat it right from the screen! Also, I like the links for the nutella scones and the dipping dark chocolate! I see you added “Categories” to your blog also. That will be very helpful in doing searches. I am loving your blog!

  3. TIM in STL

    In regards to omitting the starter discard, should a little more yeast be added as well since the discard acts as a leaven?
    Thanks.

    • Gastronotherapy

      Adding more commercial yeast isn’t really necessary. The sourdough discard, while it may give the leavening process a boost, is largely added to further enhance the sourdough flavor and make it more intense. If you choose to omit the sourdough discard, you should still have a beautiful loaf of focaccia (just remember to add the extra flour and water. 🙂

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