In the original, they ask that you let the starter rest for 12 hours. I did that the first time. But when I subsequently shortened the rest time to 9 hours, it didn't seem to change anything, so 9 hours it is.
I also found the call for 4 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons of olive oil to be far more than necessary, so cut both those ingredients down as well. Because I have another curve to flatten 😉
The recipe makes either three 9 inch round loaves, or one large sheet pan loaf. I had to use every cake pan I had (which is all of two) plus a skillet, but I like the three round loaves.
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp. yeast
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, water and yeast until evenly mixed and dry streaks remain. Cover with a dish towel and set aside for 9-12. The starter will be bubbly and will have doubled in size.
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup room temperature water
3 Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Garlic clove and fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. olive oil for greasing the pans
Crunchy, flaky salt for sprinkling
In a large bowl, stir together flour, water, salt and yeast. Add the prepared starter and stir. Knead mixture for about 6 minutes. Generously coat a large bowl with olive oil, place dough in bowl and cover with a towel. Set in a warm area for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Coat three 9-inch cake pans or pie tins with olive oil.
Punch down dough, then split into 3 equal pieces. Gently pat each piece of dough into a circle, then place it in the prepared pan and use your fingers to dimple dough into the shape of the pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 500°F.
This is an extra step I like to do anytime I'm making focaccia. In a little pan, heat your olive oil with a smashed garlic clove and a fresh sprig of rosemary. Watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. When it starts to smell heavenly, it's ready. Set aside to cool. Save that garlic clove for your next batch of spaghetti sauce!
Gently dimple your dough again, and brush the garlic-rosemary olive oil on top. Fill the dimples with olive oil. Sprinkle with a crunchy, flaky salt, then let rise for another 30 minutes until again doubled in size.
Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to remove from pans. Devour warm.
In the Via Locusta recipe, it says specifically that when you add the prepared starter to the focaccia mix, the dough will start off shaggy and very dry. This has not been the case for me any of the times I followed this recipe. In fact, my dough was extremely wet and sticky. But everything turned out just fine every time.
We never have bread leftovers, but if you do, wrap this tightly and store in an airtight container.
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