I recently watched a uTube video of an Italian Chef who made a 120% hydration focaccia! My usual recipe has something like 65.5% hydration. Itching to give it a try, but not being so ambitious, I thought I should attempt a hydration of 70% first. It’s not as much work, effort and time, as the Italian Chef had to put in – with vigorous hand-beating the soupy dough; long cold bulking etc. Even with 70% hydration, I think the lightness and the open crumb, the aroma and flavours, were worth my attempt! This is a sun-dried tomato with black olives and herbs focaccia. You will need a 30cm x 40cm (12inch x 16 inch) baking pan.
Biga: made the night before.
120g All Purpose flour
56g whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp dried yeast.
Dough: made next day.
All of the biga.
600g All Purpose flour
2 tbs potato flakes
2 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
150g sun-dried tomatoes. Roughly sliced.
100g sliced black olives
1/2 tsp grounded black peppercorns.
The last 4 items are for sprinkling over the focaccia before baking.
2 tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
1 1/2 dried Oregano
1 tbs sea salt flakes.
The night before make up the biga and stand this on the counter at room temperature for 13 to 15 hours.
The next day, place the biga and all the other ingredients for the dough, into a large mixing bowl and mix by hand thoroughly. Note: do not add the herbs yet. Let the mixture rest for 30 mins, and then do Stretch and Folds several times each time every 45 mins, for 4 or 5 rounds, till the dough is smooth.
Then add in the sun-dried tomatoes and grounded pepper. Fold these in by hand.
After the fourth (or fifth) final Stretch and Fold, transfer the dough gently (let it fall out of the bowl) onto a 30 cm x 40 cm baking pan lined with parchment paper. Let the dough rest for 20 mins and then gently spread it evenly out to cover the pan, using wet fingers or the back of a spoon. Heat up the oven to 190˚C at this time.
During this final proofing of about 1 hour, pour and brush over the entire surface of the focaccia with the 2 tbs olive oil. Make holes into the dough using a finger or the end of a chop stick. Lightly place the sliced olives onto the focaccia surface, and sprinkle the Oregano and Basil mixture over them. Finally, sprinkle the sea salt flakes.
Bake (with water-spraying for steam, 2 to 3 times, if you wish) at 190˚C for 25 to 30 mins or till golden brown. When done, take out and cool on a metal rack.
Hot out of the oven after 30 minutes of baking. Delicious aroma from the herbs!
The Focaccia sliced to show the thin crispy crust and the open airy crumb that’s light and chewy!