Focaccia is one of the easiest breads to make and this Sourdough Discard Focaccia is even better! It uses up some of your sourdough discard, and the discard gives it an extra lift for an extra light and fluffy focaccia with a sourdough tang. This same-day focaccia recipe is perfect for eating on its own or serving with a delicious soup (like this Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup).
As long as you have sourdough discard, you're well on your way to making this Sourdough Discard Focaccia! Below are a few key things you'll need.
- Warm water: The temperature of the water really does matter. You want this to be warmer than bathwater, but not so hot that you would burn your hand. This warm water will help to activate the yeast in the recipe.
- Active dry yeast: You still need to use yeast with this recipe, in addition to the sourdough discard. If you were to make this recipe without the yeast, you would have significantly longer rise times (and personally, I'm not interested in a recipe that takes 3 days to make!). Also, the first step is to let the yeast bloom on top of the warm water. If your yeast does not foam after sitting for 5 minutes, the yeast is dead. You will need to start over with fresh yeast.
- All-purpose flour: This will help your focaccia to be light and fluffy.
- Sourdough discard: The star of this show! Make sure the sourdough discard is unfed and at room temperature for this recipe. Also, this recipe is designed for a sourdough discard with a 1:1 ratio (1 part water, 1 part flour). If your sourdough starter uses a different ratio, you will need to tweak some of the ingredients in this recipe.
- Olive oil: Be generous with the olive oil when making focaccia! This will give the bread a wonderful flavor, but also help keep it from sticking to the pan (or to your hands when you're doing the dimpling).
- Flaky sea salt: I like to use Maldon Sea Salt on the top of the focaccia - it has such beautiful, big flakes!
See full recipe below for detailed instructions.
There are two rises to make this Sourdough Discard Focaccia, but the key ingredient here is time!
Combine warm water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
Add all other ingredients (except flaky sea salt) and mix until a shaggy dough forms. This will look very wet / loose.
Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 2-3 hours, until doubled in size.
After the first rise, use a spatula to scrape around the edges of the bowl, deflating the dough. Generously oil a 13x9-inch baking pan, then transfer the dough to the center of that pan.
Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 1 ½-2 hours until the dough is doubled in size and fills the pan.
Lightly oil your hands and press deep dimples into the dough, all over.
Sprinkle generously with flaky sea salt, then bake.
After baking, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully. Slice on a cutting board and serve!
Hint: When you mix together the dough and transfer it to the bowl for the first rise, it will be very shaggy. That's ok! Trust the process! The dough will rise substantially and become much less sticky by the time it's ready to bake.
This is a wonderful "base" focaccia recipe and very easy to adapt! Below are a few variation ideas that I love:
- Rosemary Sourdough Focaccia: Adding fresh rosemary to focaccia is a dream combination! Add the chopped rosemary to the dough while mixing it.
- Add olives on top: Adding olives (or another favorite topping) to the top of the focaccia is a great way to change up the flavors. After pressing the dimples into the dough, add pitted olives (either halved or full) to the top of the bread.
- Everything Bagel Focaccia: I have dreams of making this with everything bagel seasoning on top! Before pressing dimples into the dough, sprinkle with everything bagel seasoning, then continue with the steps as written.
- Whole Wheat Focaccia: If you want to add some whole wheat flour to the recipe, you can! Use 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour.
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is what is left over after you feed your sourdough starter. You can either literally discard it (compost or trash), or you can use it for baking sourdough discard recipes like this one!
Every sourdough starter is different, so you may need to make some small tweaks to the recipe. Keep in mind that this recipe is designed for a 1:1 sourdough discard (1 part flour, 1 part water). If your sourdough starter uses a different ratio (i.e. when you feed your sourdough starter, you use a different ratio of flour and water), then you will need to make modifications to this recipe.
Why does this recipe use yeast?
Even though we're baking with sourdough discard, we still need to use yeast to make the focaccia rise appropriately. Sourdough discard is not as active as sourdough starter, so it still needs a leavening agent to make the dough rise in a predictable way.
But don't worry! The sourdough discard will give this focaccia additional lift as well as some of that signature sourdough flavor.
I like to make Sourdough Discard Focaccia with a KitchenAid 5-Quart Stand Mixer, but you can also mix this by hand with a large bowl and wooden spoon. Use a kitchen scale to measure the sourdough discard. You will also need a large bowl for the dough's first rise.
Use a 13x9-inch baking pan to bake the bread. Do not use a glass pan (they conduct heat differently than a metal baking pan). If you use a pan that is slightly larger or smaller, it will be ok (your bread will be slightly thinner or thicker); you may need to adjust the baking time, so keep an eye on it!
As always, this is best fresh! If you're planning to eat the focaccia in the next 1-2 days, you can store it unwrapped at room temperature. Reheat it in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to make it soft and warm again.
This Sourdough Discard Focaccia also freezes very well. Once the bread is fully cooled, place into an airtight container or freezer safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, you can thaw the bread at room temperature, or reheat in the microwave for about 60 seconds.
If needed, drizzle with a little more fresh olive oil before serving!
There are two secrets to this recipe. First: let it rise. When in doubt, let it rise a little longer. It will be worth it in the end! Second: be generous with the olive oil. No need to hold back, as it will add great flavor and will soak into the bread!
Yes, this was recipe was designed to be made with sourdough discard. Without it, you would need to adjust several of the ingredients.
Sourdough discard is what you have left over when you feed your sourdough starter. You can either literally discard it (trash or compost), or you can use it for baking recipes like this one!
You can save sourdough discard, feeding your starter up to once per day, until you have the amount of discard you need for your recipe. Do not keep discard longer than one week.
Sourdough discard is not as active as sourdough starter, so you still need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast) to help the dough rise in a predictable way.
This is a same-day focaccia recipe, but if you want to let the dough rise overnight, you can mix together the dough and transfer to the large oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, let the dough come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, then continue with the recipe as written.
Sourdough Discard Focaccia
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 200 grams (about ¾ cup) sourdough discard unfed, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper optional
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- flaky sea salt for topping
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine warm water and granulated sugar. Sprinkle yeast on top and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. If the yeast does not foam, it is dead and you will need to start over with fresh yeast.
- Add flour, sourdough discard, salt and black pepper and mix on low until combined and no dry spots remain. This will be a very shaggy dough.
- Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 2-3 hours, until doubled in size (this timing will depend on the temperature of your room).
- Brush a 13x9-inch pan with 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil and set aside.
- Once the dough has risen, use a spatula to scrape around the perimeter of the bowl, deflating the dough. Transfer the dough to the center of the prepared 13x9-inch pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 1 ½-2 hours, until doubled in size and the dough fills (or nearly fills) the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil your hands and press deep dimples all over the dough. Drizzle the dough with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and flaky sea salt.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the focaccia is golden and crusty. Drizzle with an additional 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully. Slice on a cutting board and serve.