Sourdough Focaccia with cherry tomatoes
It seems that sourdough and I have become dear friends. Every morning, I wake up excited to see the jars on my kitchen counter and find out how much volume the sourdough starter has gained overnight. I feed it on a daily basis and I have to say this feeling of caring and looking after it is deeply satisfying and unique.
The joy of taking care of something that is entirely dependent on you and seeing it grow is just incredible. I feel the excitement of a little child every time I see the air-bubbles on the surface of my sourdough starter burst.
My first attempt to bake with sourdough was with last week's crackers that honestly tasted amazing! They truly exceeded any expectation and vanished in no time although I was quite generous with the quantities I made. Can’t wait to see how many different things I can do with them. There are so many ingredients and herbs you can experiment with and since I absolutely love these crackers, I’ll definitely play around with various different combinations and flavours.
This is only the beginning of my experience with sourdough and I know there are so many things I still need to learn. I’m not quite sure how long my sourdough starter will last, so I really need to end this round of baking with sourdough with one last recipe. First of all, the number of jars on my kitchen counter has increased dramatically and second, we really should stop having any type of sourdough product at home, as they’re dangerously addictive and summer is here, so I better keep away from them as much as possible!
As I was looking for my next sourdough-y goal, I decided that I wanted to make bread this time but still needed to find a recipe that doesn’t seem impossible. I’ve seen so many incredible things made by some of my favourite bloggers who are experts in baking and I know I’m not quite there yet. Kneading sourdough takes time. It takes time and effort to learn and a bit of trial and error to eventually succeed.
Our Sunday lunch with friends was Italian-themed, so I naturally ended up looking for focaccia and flatbread recipes. I love this type of flat, delicious Italian breads. This isn’t the first focaccia I make but the dough is a bit different this time. It’s a bit more liquid and needs more time to rest and rise.
There’s always this one dish that stands out at every lunch or dinner party, the one that everyone talks about. This time, it was all about the bread. And since I was feeling quite inspired, I wanted to enhance the flavour of my sourdough focaccia even more.
Garlic pesto, fresh oregano and extra virgin olive oil with all their wonderful aromas.. Fragrant and lightly roasted cherry tomatoes and coarse sea salt.. And voilà, you’ve just made the most summery sourdough focaccia ever! This thin, chewy and subtly sour bread is just all you need to pair with a glass of wine on summer nights!
170g sourdough starter
1,5tbsp salt (plus some more for the cherry tomatoes)
1,5tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500g bread flour
1 bunch of cherry tomatoes
3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 fresh oregano twigs
Coarse sea salt
1. The previous day. Make sure your sourdough starter has reached its peak in volume when you start kneading. In a big bowl, ideally your stand mixer’s bowl, mix the sourdough starter, honey, salt, olive oil and water. Stir gently with a mixing spoon until all ingredients have blended well.
2. Then add the flour while you’re still stirring with the mixing spoon until it has blended enough with the rest of the ingredients. You can now start kneading with your hands or your mixer. Use your mixer’s dough hook on low speed for 10 minutes. You must have a soft and a bit thick dough. Cover the bowl with a wet towel and let the dough rise for 4-5 hours.
3. When the dough has doubled its size and has formed big air-bubbles on its surface, uncover it and start stretching the edges towards the center of the dough, like folding it. Cover the dough again and set aside for another 5 hours. You can also leave it in the refrigerator overnight and continue the next day.
4. In the meantime. Preheat the oven to 200C. In a tea cup, mix the garlic, fresh oregano leaves, salt and olive oil. Spread the cherry tomatoes onto a baking tray. Pour the oregano scented oil you’ve just made on top and add some extra salt onto the baking tray and cherry tomatoes. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they’ve dried a bit but they’re still not too soft.
5. The dough is now ready. Place the dough on an oiled baking tray and start stretching its edges to give it the shape that you want. Cover the dough again for another 2-3 hours to double its volume. When it’s ready, pour the rest of the oregano oil over and create a few holes on the surface with your fingers. Place the cherry tomatoes into the holes. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes and then lower the heat to 185C and bake for another 10 minutes. Give it some time to cool down and serve.