• How to make perfect focaccia with a poolish

Slow Proved Focaccia

How to make perfect focaccia with a poolish

Social media is awash with image after image of artisanal loaves and whilst they are undoubtedly beautiful, they can be a little intimidating for the home baker a most rely on sourdough techniques to produce them. I’ve spoken before about my inability to commit to sour, and really without that commitment to regular bake with a starter, that you can’t get practiced enough to get reproducible results at home. My way of combating this is to use a poolish – and all that means is I mix a portion of my flour and water together with a pinch of yeast the day before I want to bake, and allow it to slowly ferment overnight. Hence it’s other name of pre-ferment. Using it gives this Slow Proved Focaccia both beautiful texture and a terrific full-flavoured taste.

Slow your baking down and make this delicious focaccia using a poolish!Click To Tweet

The benefits of using a poolish are that you get a little hit of that sourdough flavour without having to maintain a starter and also, you trap a lot more moisture into the bread, which is really important in focaccia. Focaccia is a flat Italian bread which is a celebration of the most simple ingredients, as all Italian cooking it. Use the best bread flour you can find and certainly crack open that expensive bottle of single estate, extra-virgin olive oil if you have one hiding in your cupboard. Focaccia recipes traditionally work off a 3:5 ratio of water to flour, so it is a very wet dough to work with and I chose to use my stand mixer, but with a bench scraper, it’s not hard to knead by hand if you prefer that.

How to make perfect focaccia with a poolish

Once the poolish is combined with the remainder of the flour, salt and yeast, you need to leave it to prove again and during this time, it will spread out to fill the shape of it’s bowl and should have large air bubbles formed under the surface before you shape it. Forget everything you have ever heard about “knocking back” doughs to get all of that precious air out of them – you want those bubbles to convey the irregular, air pocket crumb structure which is the hallmark of a great focaccia. As a slight aside, I imagine the cut surface of a focaccia must look like the internal structure of a memory-foam mattress lol. 

Readers who have been with me from the beginning with know Hungry Hubby adores lasagne and I love making it for him. I admit it is a bit of a carb overdose but he really loves it if I make this focaccia to serve alongside lasagne so every now and again, my Friday evenings will be spent making up a poolish and fresh pasta so that I can make his favourite meal on a Saturday. Both are perfect lazy weekend recipes to make at home as there is very little hands on time and I promise, once you go poolish, you wont go back. This Slow Proved Focaccia will make an artisanal bread baker overnight, quite literally!

 

5 from 10 votes
How to make perfect focaccia with a poolish
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Slow Proved Focaccia

Slow down your bread making by using a poolish to deepen the flavour and add more moisture. A weekend bake worth investing the time in. 

Author: Just Jo
Ingredients
For the poolish
  • 175 g strong bread flour
  • 175 g water
  • 1/4 tsp dried active yeast
For the dough
  • 100 g water
  • 20 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 200 g strong bread flour
  • 7 g sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp dried active yeast
To finish
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Instructions
  1. The day before you want the focaccia, mix the flour, water and yeast together until well blended then leave covered with clingfilm on the worktop for 12-24 hours. I do this in my stand mixer bowl so it's ready to go tomorrow.

  2. When the poolish has risen and is very bubbly, 12-24 hours later, fit the bowl to your stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, whisk the water and oil into the poolish. When well combined, switch to the flat beater attachment (the dough hook is no use for such wet doughs) and sprinkle over the flour, salt and yeast then turn the mixer onto low and beat for 10 minutes until it is elastic and starting to leave the sides of the bowl.

  3. Drizzle a little more oil over the top of the dough and scoop it up into a ball, placing the oiled side of the dough down before covering.  Allow to prove until doubled in size - this may take 2 hours in a cold kitchen so leave it somewhere snug.

  4. When proved, take a baking tin lined with baking parchment and oil it lightly. Using a dough scraper or spatula, coax the soft and bubbly dough onto the baking parchment without deflating it. With oiled hands underneath the dough, slowly and carefully stretch it out to an even thickness of about 1 inch. Cover with oiled clingfilm - try to seal the edges but leave space for expansion underneath the cling. Allow to rest for 40-60 minutes somewhere warm whilst the oven is preheating to 220˚C. 

  5. The dough is ready to bake when it is starting to show a few big bubbles under the surface and has risen in size by about 50%. Drizzle the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and dimple the surface lightly with your fingers. Sprinkle with the sea salt and rosemary and bake for 25 minutes until well browned and risen. It should sound hollow when tapped in the centre. Cool for 5 minutes on the tin before transferring to a rack until cool enough to slice and eat. 

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn a little commission if you chose to buy items I’ve advertised, helping me to bring you all these recipes for free! 

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48 Comments

  1. Jovita @ Yummy Addiction 18/03/2017 at 07:38 - Reply

    I love your method of making Focaccia! I’m surely bookmarking and trying it out soon because this Italian bread is one of my favorites!

  2. Kavey at Kavey Eats 18/03/2017 at 09:49 - Reply

    Great compromise to use poolish rather than maintain the sourdough starter (we are lucky that ours responds even after weeks of neglect), or just use yeast. This way you have the best of both!!

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 07:56 - Reply

      See, if I had a sourdough starter, I’d eat far too much bread as I could see me making many, many loaves trying to perfect it lol. THis is safer for my waistline 😉

  3. Tara 18/03/2017 at 13:32 - Reply

    This focaccia is absolutely gorgeous! That texture looks perfect and I love the top with all the dimples.

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 07:57 - Reply

      It’s super dimply – the dough has a wonderful wibble wobble when it’s proved and ready to bake!

  4. Deanna 18/03/2017 at 13:50 - Reply

    As Oprah said, I love bread, I could eat bread every day! This looks amazing!

  5. Julia @ HappyFoods Tube 18/03/2017 at 14:56 - Reply

    Your focaccia looks yummy. I love bread and could it it all day every day! 🙂 Great photo!

  6. Veena Azmanov 18/03/2017 at 20:30 - Reply

    I love making homemade focaccia bread but I have never made it with a poolie. This sounds awesome . Will try next time I plan my focaccia. Thanks

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 08:11 - Reply

      You’re welcome Veena – do give it a try, it’s a small tweak but the results are so much better than you’ll believe 😀

  7. Baking is very intimidating to me. But your instructions make sense. Looks like a delicious focaccia!

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 08:10 - Reply

      This focaccia would definitely get your baking confidence up Amy, do have a go – it’s nice and easy but the result is so good, you’ll be super proud of your baking prowess immediately!

  8. Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy 19/03/2017 at 02:59 - Reply

    Love homemade bread. The aroma while it bakes is so wonderful. I am actually making focaccia tomorrow for the first time. Hope it turns out as good as this.

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 08:10 - Reply

      Oh that’s spooky! Yay for more focaccia being in the world 😀

  9. Kathy McDaniel 19/03/2017 at 05:45 - Reply

    I don’t think I have pre-fermented my breads before. I am now intrigued and wanting to give it a try. I love foccacia and my family does too. Yours looks beautiful and is perfect for my experimentation of the pre-fermentation method!! I am actually excited about that!! (I am a total food geek) 🙂

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 08:12 - Reply

      Oh well you’ll love this then Kathy – there’s tons written about pre-fermentation techniques by bread baker geeks on the internet (which I say with great love for those geeks!). It makes a world of a difference to the end result 😀

  10. Stephanie@ApplesforCJ 19/03/2017 at 13:57 - Reply

    Sometimes you just need a little extra carbs and I can understand why this bread with lasagna would be among husbands favorite. Carbs are really my weakness as well and this bread would be a great way to indulge. Love your pictures 🙂

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 17:27 - Reply

      I tried to give up carbs for a month and I failed three days in last week Stephanie lol. Oopsie 😉

  11. Byron Thomas 19/03/2017 at 14:59 - Reply

    There’s is nothing better than a freshly baked focaccia. I’d seriously eat that whole thing if I were there. I’m surprised you were able to get pictures first before eating it all. LOL The infusion of rosemary is seriously making my mouth water.

    • Just Jo 19/03/2017 at 17:28 - Reply

      Lol it was a tough job but somehow I managed it! *Just* 😉

  12. I love baking bread and once I get home I’m going to have to feed my sourdough starter. That is if I haven’t killed it. 🙁 Working with dough always gives me such a feeling of satisfaction. We do make focaccia along with myriads of other bread. I’m going to start working more with different grains. Your focaccia looks delicious. I can see why hubby likes it.

    • Just Jo 21/03/2017 at 21:42 - Reply

      Thank you Marisa. I love experimenting too – it’s much easier with bread than cake to have a fiddle and switch out the grains.

  13. swathi 20/03/2017 at 00:23 - Reply

    I like slow fermentation when comes to bread. Sourdough bread is more delicious than same day bread. I will give it try for sure.

    • Just Jo 21/03/2017 at 21:39 - Reply

      It really is Swathi – I must admit to buying my sourdough as we have some fantastic artisan bakers here in Sheffield but I love using poolish to get that sour tang to my homemade breads whenever I can.

  14. Christine McMichael 20/03/2017 at 01:17 - Reply

    I’ve actually never made Focaccia before, but this sounds delicious! I’ve seen it a lot lately, so I think it’s time that I try it out! 🙂

    • Just Jo 21/03/2017 at 21:41 - Reply

      It’s definitely calling your name Christine then, go get your bake on!

  15. ManilaSpoon 20/03/2017 at 01:46 - Reply

    I have always wanted to make focaccia but have often been intimidated and seeing how delicious your bread is, I feel I really ought to make the effort and try making it, too! Glad I have this recipe to try!! 🙂

  16. Molly Kumar 20/03/2017 at 09:50 - Reply

    Focaccia was the first bread that I ever baked, so they hold a special place in my heart 🙂 but I’ve never slow proved it before. Your recipe looks amazing that crust and shine on the bread is simply AWESOME !

    • Just Jo 21/03/2017 at 21:38 - Reply

      You must give the slow prove trick a go then Molly – it brings a whole other dimension of flavour and so much more moisture to the bread, it really does become like a sourdough but far less stressful!

  17. Sandhya Ramakrishnan 20/03/2017 at 13:51 - Reply

    Slow risen bread tastes the best and I wish I had enough planning ans patience to do it often. What a lovely crumb you have attained in your focaccia and just seeing it wants me to grab a slice to taste.

    • Just Jo 20/03/2017 at 19:28 - Reply

      The key is to forget about it whilst it proves or it will torment you with it’s delicious siren call lol!

  18. Adriana Lopez Martn 20/03/2017 at 14:53 - Reply

    Focaccia is one of my guilty pleasures never tried tgo make it as I am not a baker but you have inspired me =)

    • Just Jo 20/03/2017 at 19:28 - Reply

      Oh do give it a try Adriana! It’s so worth it and I promise it’s a good recipe for beginners 😀

  19. Megan Marlowe 20/03/2017 at 15:04 - Reply

    Rosemary focaccia is my favorite but I’ve never made it at home. I think it’s high time I do though because this looks perfect!

    • Just Jo 20/03/2017 at 19:29 - Reply

      Absolutely – go get your bake on Megan! And thank you 😀

  20. Natalie 20/03/2017 at 15:51 - Reply

    Wow I must admire your skills. This focaccia looks absolutely amazing. So delicious! I have no patience for slow rising breads, I’m so impatient. But after this recipe and lovely photos I’m tempted to try and make focaccia bread.

    • Just Jo 20/03/2017 at 19:30 - Reply

      Oh thank you Natalie! You’re so kind 😀

  21. Amy 20/03/2017 at 16:14 - Reply

    Your focaccia looks fantastic and I love that you don’t have to use a starter. I love the rosemary in this and I bet it is amazing for sopping up soups and sauces!

    • Just Jo 20/03/2017 at 19:29 - Reply

      Oh it really is – I could eat the lot dipped into pesto or marinara style sauces (heck, I could eat a pot of ragu with this, no pasta lol)

  22. Jennifer A Stewart 21/03/2017 at 01:05 - Reply

    How fun! I love eating focaccia when we go out but have never tried to make it myself. I love it with rosemary and garlic! I love that you make fresh pasta on Friday nights. What a great tradition and I think we need more of those!!

    • Just Jo 21/03/2017 at 21:31 - Reply

      Well, it’s not every Friday but that’s part of what makes it special 😀 Do have a go making your own Jennifer – it’s such a wonderful and easy bread to make x

  23. Kylee from Kylee Cooks 21/03/2017 at 15:40 - Reply

    For whatever reason, I always feel such a sense of pride when serving up homemade bread. This looks really good, and would be easy to make, too!

    • Just Jo 21/03/2017 at 21:38 - Reply

      Absolutely – watching it and tending to it through all the mixing and proving then baking really does convey a sense of accomplishment Kylee! It really is easy peasy 😀

  24. Neil 01/04/2017 at 00:10 - Reply

    Love this bread x

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