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Focaccia Recipe with Biga 

 December 21, 2020

By  Gareth

medium

20 - 22 HOURS

italy

This focaccia recipe is a pretty straightforward artisan recipe. It creates a dough with the most perfect spongy crumb, that's still light.

It can be eaten on its own, sliced in half and filled with a sandwich filling or stretched into a longer tray to be cut into slices and served as a starter to a meal. 

I love focaccia, it’s the perfect balance of elegance, flavour, and beauty, and this focaccia recipe personifies bread making.


How to make focaccia video tutorial

Ingredients 


For the biga:

   200g  White flour 


   200g  Water


    0.8g  Fresh yeast (0.3g active dried)


For the dough:

  300g  White bread flour


  160g  Water


     6g  Fresh yeast (3g active dried)


   10g  Salt


   30g  Extra virgin olive oil


   27g  Second water


1

Create the biga the day before by whisking the yeast and water together until the yeast is dissolved. If using dried yeast follow the instructions below. Add the flour to the bowl and lightly mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and leave for 12-18 hours.

2

When the biga is ready it will have bubbles across the surface. If using dried yeast add the water and yeast in a bowl and whisk until dissolved. Place the flour, biga, 1st water and yeast into a bowl. Mix to incorporate for a minute and leave to autolyse for 20-30 minutes. This helps the gas retention in the dough and reduces the kneading time.

3

After it has rested, add the salt, set a timer and knead slowly for 10 minutes. Place back into the bowl and leave covered in the fridge for 15 minutes.

4

Take out of the fridge and knead fast for 5 minutes, then put back in the mixing bowl and pour in the 2nd water. Mash the water into the dough by pushing the dough into the edges of the bowl and turning it over. This may take a while and it’s not the most advanced technique, but it will incorporate! When the water is absorbed, add the olive oil to the bowl and mash it into the dough like the water. Knead on the table until the dough feels strong and even.

5

Put the dough in an oil’ed bowl, cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

6

Complete a stretch and fold (turn) and place back in the bowl to rest for a further hour. Get your oven preheating ideally with a baking stone (but this recipe will work without) at 250C (480F).

7

Grease a suitable baking tray or dish generously with olive oil. Take the dough out of the bowl and stretch it out a little with your hands before placing it in the tray. Push the dough to the edges and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

8

Prepare the toppings. A hardy herb like rosemary, some cheese that will melt nicely and veg works well.

9

After the dough has rested you will probably need to stretch the dough back out to the edges again. To do this use the tops of your fingers to massage the dough along. Next, build your toppings on top of the dough, drizzling with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

10

Place the dough in a hot oven, dropping the temperature to 220C once it goes in. No need to add steam, but do turn the top heat setting on if your oven has it to gain extra colour. Bake for 20 minutes then open the door to release the steam, give it a turn and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until the top looks nice and golden.

11

Remove from the tray as soon as it is cool enough and allow to cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.

Method using a dough mixer


1

Create the biga the day before by whisking the yeast and water together until the yeast is dissolved. If using dried yeast follow the instructions below. Add the flour to the bowl and lightly mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and leave for 12-18 hours.

2

When the biga is ready it will have bubbles across the surface. If using dried yeast add the water and yeast in a bowl and whisk until dissolved. Place the flour, biga, 1st water and yeast into a bowl. Mix to incorporate for a minute (by hand or with mixer) and leave to autolyse for 20-30 minutes. This helps the gas retention in the dough and reduces the kneading time.

3

After resting, add the salt, set the timer and start mixing on slow speed for 8 minutes, then  fast speed for a further 8 minutes. The dough should be strong with long strands of gluten visible.

4

Lower the mixer speed to slow speed and add the additional water, when most of it is absorbed, turn the speed up until it is fill incorporated. Next, lower the speed and repeat the process with the olive oil.

5

Put the dough in an oil’ed bowl, cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

6

Complete a stretch and fold (turn) and place back in the bowl to rest for a further hour. Get your oven preheating ideally with a baking stone (but this recipe will work without) at 250C (480F).

7

Grease a suitable baking tray or dish generously with olive oil. Take the dough out of the bowl and stretch it out a little with your hands before placing it in the tray. Push the dough to the edges and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

8

Prepare the toppings. A hardy herb like rosemary, some cheese that will melt nicely and a veg or fruit tends to work.

9

After the dough has rested you will probably need to stretch the dough back out to the edges again. To do this use the tops of your fingers to massage the dough along. Next, build your toppings on top of the dough, drizzling with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

10

Place the dough in a hot oven, dropping the temperature to 220C once it goes in. No need to add steam, but do turn the top heat setting on if your oven has it to gain extra colour. Bake for 20 minutes then open the door to release the steam, give it a turn and bake for a further 10-15 minutes, until the top looks nice and golden.

11

Remove from the tray as soon as it is cool enough and allow to cool on a wire rack. Drizzle with sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.


Using dried yeast


If using instant yeast, divide the amount of fresh yeast used by 3 and follow the same method as fresh yeast.

Active dried yeast needs to be activated before use. In this case, warm the water for the biga to 35C (95F) - no higher. Add the yeast to the bowl, whisk and leave for 10 minutes to bloom. Combine the flour for the biga with the yeasty water and place in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool. Return to the worktop and allow to ferment as above.

When ready to start the dough, warm 20 grams of water to 35C (95F), add the yeast with half a teaspoon of sugar, whisk and leave to stand for ten minutes before adding to the dough. Remove 20 grams of the 1st water addition from the recipe.


Top tips for this focaccia recipe


Take a temperature reading at the end of mixing and after the stretch and fold. If it is above 26C (75F) place the dough to rest in the fridge, if under this it should be kept on the worktop, providing the kitchen temperature is not excessively hot. For more accurate controls of temperature, use some of the advice in this article.

The dough should already by soft and elastic before the additional water is added. This helps to get an uneven and open crumb. Don't be scared to add it!

For a 1 day focaccia recipe, increase the yeast in the biga to 2g and ferment for 4 hours.

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