Sourdough Focaccia

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Once you start making your own bread, it’s hard to stop. Our family has been making bread for years, and I promise you, there are few things as fulfilling (in the kitchen 😉 as enjoying warm, handmade bread; filled with goodness and care and free from preservatives and other yukky ingredients. When it comes to sourdough bread, this is doubly true.

Our son has embarked on a culinary apprenticeship and so, we have been reaping the spoils of all of his new knowledge – one of these spoils was how to make sourdough bread.

Sourdough is different from other types of bread in that the dough always starts from a fermented “starter” made of flour and water. A well established starter provides superior texture, flavour and nutrition to your loaf. In fact, handmade sourdough breads are more digestible than standard loaves due to the lactic acids in the dough.  These acids pre-digest the glutens in the flour and slow down the rate at which glucose is released into the blood-stream and lower the bread’s glycemic index, so it doesn’t cause undesirable spikes in insulin. They also help to neutralise the phytates in flour that would interfere with absorption of vitamins and minerals in the bread. Sourdough is full of millions of beneficial bacteria which render the gluten in flour more digestible and less likely to cause food intolerance. In some cases, even people with celiac disease can eat sourdough.

Sourdough breads, like other fermented foods (kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, beer, wine, yogurt, kefir, miso, etc)  have long been a nutritious and balancing staple in our diet. It’s this fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, a beneficial gut flora, that makes eating good quality bread an aid to digestion of all complex carbohydrate foods including other grains, beans, and vegetables. It helps restore the functioning of the digestive tract.

Here is some great info on how to start your own sourdough and what you need to know to maintain it:
http://nourishedkitchen.com/how-to-make-a-sourdough-starter/

Ok, class dismissed! On with our Sourdough Focaccia 🙂

 Ingredients:

1 cup well established sourdough starter
1.5 cups warm water
1 tbsp quick rise bread yeast
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cups all purpose flour

olive oil for brushing pan / loaf
sea salt and fresh rosemary or olives to top the loaf

Method:

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl – except for the flour. Stir with a fork until combined. Add in 3 cups of flour and stir until loosely combined. Add more flour as needed JUST until the dough forms into a ball and the bowl is clean.

Fold the dough over onto itself with one hand and “knead” (I do this right in the bowl to minimize mess) the dough for 10 to 12 turns.

Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and set it in a warm part of your kitchen to rise (about 2 hours).

When the dough has doubled in size, knead it over 2 or 3 more times gently until it is “de-poofed”.

Grease a cookie pan with olive oil and dump your dough out onto it. Spread the dough around until it is a large rectangle and almost reaches the sides of the pan. (I usually make half of the dough into the flat focaccia and divide the remaining dough into balls for rolls – but you can make this into any combo of shapes that you would like to 🙂

10383917_10153547346275995_3344219368628370968_nPress olives (if desired) into the top of the dough. I have also used grapes for this – they turned out really yummy!
Brush your loaf with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and medium-small grain sea salt.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the loaf / buns you have. When your bread is golden brown, it is ready to eat.

Try not to burn yourself. We can never wait until it has cooled to dive in.

Delizioso!!

 

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