Monday, 20 April 2020

Rosemary Sourdough Focaccia Bread

I've been busily baking sourdough bread these last few days, and given the empty flour shelves in the supermarkets, I'm not alone, although I would take a guess not everyone is baking with sourdough. Focaccia is a great way to start your bread making journey if you are keen to give it a go, either with instant yeast or with sourdough. It doesn't take as long to proof or rise as loaves of bread, the technique required is pretty simple, and this recipe feeds a lot of people. Focaccia is delicious to eat with cheeses, cured meats, pesto, olives, and all those delicious snacks we enjoy with a glass of wine or a cold drink in our backyards late in the day. No need for bought savoury biscuits.  I'll be honest with you, this was my first attempt at making focaccia and I was really pleased with it.

There are a few tricks to ensuring your sourdough bread dough performs and my friends I learn something every time I bake a loaf of bread. The main thing I learned this time was to choose a baking tin which is deep enough for the dough to rise whilst it is still covered by a damp tea towel, without it rising up to actually come in contact with the tea towel.  Mine was a touch shallow. Some people blame their flour when their bread doesn't rise enough and bake properly. Really flour should last for years unless it is weavil ridden. The yeast or the Sourdough starter needs to be very well prepared and bubbling well before you use it. If you aren't sure, a good tip is to place a teaspoon of your activated starter in a small glass of water, and if it floats to the top it is ready. Two days ago I was feeding my starter who I have named Beryl again, preparing her for a loaf of multigrain bread. Whilst she was bubbling away quietly, I wasn't convinced she was ready. When I did my scientific experiment of placing a teaspoon in a glass of water, it sunk to the bottom straight away. Oops! Obviously she wasn't ready. That evening, after a good feed of flour and water in the morning, I tried my experiment again even though she was bubbling away very well,  and the teaspoon of sourdough stayed afloat until all of the air bubbles were removed. My starter was ready. That night I prepared the ingredients for a loaf of bread and let it proof overnight in a large bowl in my warm laundry, sitting on the hot water system. It works for me. We had a loaf of multigrain bread by 10.30 am next morning. 

This is it. If you would like to make a large loaf of sourdough bread, my recipe is here. Use either wholegrain, wholemeal or rye strong bread  flour according to the recipe.

This was the same morning I had also decided to make Rosemary focaccia. It worked out well as I had two lots of sourdough starter and dough ready to go, I was only making one lot of mess in my kitchen for two lots of bread, and all of the ingredients were out of the cupboard ready to used for both. It was a very economical use of my time, the ingredients and the oven. They both rose pretty much in sync as well which was great.

This is how I made my Rosemary Focaccia. There are also plenty of recipes around for how to make this with instant yeast if you don't have a sourdough starter which will still be delicious. To substitute instant powdered yeast for sourdough starter, replace 100 g of starter with 5-7 grams of instant ;powdered yeast, or 12-15 grams of fresh bakers yeast. I am lucky that we have a large bush of rosemary growing in our yard which I couldn't do without. It seems easy to grow in most places from what I have seen on my travels.

Steeping the rosemary: 12 hours
Mixing and kneading: 15 minutes
First rising: 2 hours
Proofing: 1 hour 30 minutes
Baking: 15-20 minutes


Makes 1 large focaccia, about 940 g., leftovers can be frozen. It reheats well.
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 30g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 500 g (4 cups) plain flour
  • 330g (1 1/3 cup) lukewarm water 
  • 100 g (scant 1/2 cup) liquid sourdough starter that is very active and bubbling, or substitute 5-7 grams of instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant powdered yeast (which I used) or if you can get it, use 7 g (2 1/2 teaspoons) fresh bakers yeast, in addition to the sourdough starter
  • 10 g (2 teaspoons) salt
  • Sea salt flakes for sprinkling
The night before, remove the leaves from the fresh rosemary sprigs and mix them with the olive oil. Leave them to steep overnight at room temperature.

I kneaded my dough by hand so I will give instructions for using a stand mixer and doing it by hand.


Put the flour, water, sourdough starter, yeast, and salt in the bowl. Knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes at low speed, then for 10 minutes at high speed. Add the rosemary and the steeping oil around 3 minutes before the end of the kneading time.


Put the flour  in a large mixing bowl and make a large well in the centre. Pour in half the water, then add the sourdough starter, yeast, and salt. Mix well, then add the rest of the water and knead until all the flour has been incorporated. Add the rosemary and the steeping oil. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.

Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and leave to rise for 2 hours. Midway through the rise, deflate the dough by folding it in half. By the end of the rising time it will have increased in volume.

Put the dough in a shallow baking pan lined with baking paper. Stretch the dough with your hands to make a flat piece that fills a 40 x 30 cm pan, or 16 x 12-inch pan. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to proof for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Ensure the pan is deep enough for rising.

Place a baking tray on the bottom shelf of your oven and preheat to 230 deg C. (or 450 deg. F.) Use the tips of your fingers to press small holes over the surface of the focaccia. Pour a little oil into the holes and sprinkle with salt flakes.

Just before you put the focaccia in the oven,  pour 1/4 cup or 50 g of water into the baking dish in the bottom of your oven.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, turn out the focaccia , and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Stay safe and healthy,

Warm wishes



  1. Nothing beats the freshly homemade bread :-))
    Both loaf and focacci look bakery perfect, Pauline.

  2. The bread looks so delicious, Pauline.
    I’ve never made sourdough bread.

    I posted green apple curry recipe on my blog. 😊

    1. Thanks so much Nil. I will check out your recipe straight away.

  3. Yum. Thank for posting. I am just learning to bake bread and am going to try this soon. I really enjoy your recipes.

    1. Thanks so much Bernie, Good luck with your bread. Whether it's from sourdough, or from instant yeast, it tastes great and you never stop learning. I've had a few failures along the way, but I'm so pleased I have stuck with it.

  4. Sourdough starter is a huge help for us home bread bakes as yeast is no where to be fond in these part. I love Focaccia bread, but have not made a sourdough version. Thanks for the recipe and inspiration.

    1. Thanks Ron, such an advantage to have a sourdough mother in the frig isn't it? Not surprised you can't buy powdered yeast over there when the flour shelves here are mostly empty as well. Hope you get to make some focaccia, it's really tasty and as you can't buy powdered yeast I think it could be left out of my recipe and it would still work well, might just take a little longer to proof. It's the first time I've combined it with sourdough in a recipe, I was in a hurry ha, ha.

  5. this looks sooooooo good!! i recently made this bread and it came out awesome. i did not mix the rosemary with the dough, i put it on top with some fresh garlic. when i make it again, i would put more seasonings on it!!!

    1. Thanks Debbie, I'm sure yours was delicious as well. I'm lucky that I have stacks of rosemary growing to use.

  6. Love rosemary in bread! So fragrant and good. This looks great -- thanks.

    1. Thanks KR, yes it is certainly a great combination.

  7. i'm still frightened of yeast cooking and have only done it about 4 times in my life! Yum to rosemary sourdough bread! i must try that overnight bread of Matt Preston's again. that was pretty simple:) hope you're keeping well x

    1. Sherry, I would give you some of my sourdough Mother starter if I could, a few suggestions and I know you would be hooked. Matt Preston's loaf might be a good palce to start. Thanks, Pauline

  8. Hi,
    It's my first time on your blog and I'm enjoying going through your recipes. I am a great fan of sourdough and rosemary, so I can only imagine how good this bread tastes.

    1. Thanks judee it's lovely to hear from you and I'm thrilled that you enjoy my recipes. I hope you will visit my blog again. Best wishes, Pauline


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