Sourdough Focaccia (Yeast Version too)

(SingKevin) #21

It is probably like pounds vs kilograms… whatever you are used to will be easiest for you.

I like the way I describe percentages for three main reasons (other than my personal view of the aesthetics of having different percentages depending on starter vs. instant yeast):

  1. It shows you very clearly the hydration percentage.
  2. No guesswork on the hydration level of the starter. I assume your recipe uses 100% hydration starter, but your ratios do not confirm this unless you read the description of how you calculate the formulas. Most recipes will not include the textual description of how to amounts/percentages were determined.
  3. The percentages for salt and other ingredients never change and are easy to calculate (i.e., salt divided by flour rather than salt divided by (flour + half of starter)). For example, I use 2% salt as a standard ratio and can evaluate all recipes against this. I think having a single universal percentage for all items has great value for non-experts like me.
(maplesugar) #22

Hi, anytime my starter isn’t so great smelling, I feed a tiny amount of it with rye flour and get it really excited, and then I feed it with King Arthur bread flour, which has malt added, and it not only holds longer, it develops a great smell.

(wendyk320) #23

Thanks, Maplesugar! All I’ve ever fed my starter is whole spelt flour. It would be interesting to try some other flours. I’m pretty sure that the problem I just had was that I’d been neglecting my starter grievously, not feeding it often enough and not feeding it enough when I did feed it. Lesson learned. I have in the past kept a small quantity of starter, about 1/4 cup or so. I’m now keeping even less, maybe a Tablespoon, and doing 2-3 feedings the day before baking and using all but a Tablespoon of the starter in the bake. I’ll see how that goes.

(Melissa) #24


The reasons you give make total sense to me.

Certainly when I find myself with less starter, it’s a bit easier to recalculate the rest of the numbers if I’ve got the flour and water totaled.

But sometimes there is a strange conflict between what is simple for beginners, and what is logical for more experience bakers.

Maybe for my next recipe I’ll go the other route :slight_smile:

(Phil) #25

Melissa, I’ve been making the BBA pain a l’ancienne yeasted version for years. I haven’t done it using sourdough yet but plan to soon. I, too, have been experimenting with whole grain. I used Sonora as well, experimenting with 20%, then 50%, then 30%, and I concur with you that 20% seemed to work the best.

I love the pain a l’ancienne approach because, compared to many breads I make, it is mostly hands off. You mix with cold water and bulk ferment in the fridge overnight; take it out of the fridge and leave to ferment/come to room temp over 3 hours; then spill it into an oiled, parchment lined sheet pan (or scrap the parchment as someone here has suggested), dimple with an herb oil of your choice (Reinhart calls for more than I like to use), and proof for another 3 hours (I use a heat pad because the Brod & Taylor proofer doesn’t fit a large sheet pan).

I’m not sure how well the same process would work for sourdough, since the cold water and overnight retard wouldn’t develop as quickly, but I’m going to give it a try soon.

(Melissa) #26

Agree about the oil quantity in BBA - I tried it and decided it was a lot too.

Sourdough leavened dough feels a little different in my experience, but knowing how a yeast recipe behaves gives you a leg up in figuring out the sourdough version. (When I made a hokkaido milk bread in sourdough version for the first time, I kept patient because I knew how big the dough grew in the yeast version…yeast domed more, but both grew)

Maybe you can mix with warm water earlier in the evening, and still retard overnight. Or mix cold later at night and don’t retard.

All sorts of possibilities. I’d love to hear how it goes.

Neat that you also liked the 20% whole grain ratio :slight_smile:

(Phil) #27

Those are good suggestions. Another interesting possibility for converting the BBA recipe to SD if trying to stay true to the theory behind pain a l’ancienne (i.e., residual sugar for superior browning) is a longer cold bulk ferment, 24 or more hours. That could also boost the flavor and alter the crumb.

In practice I’ve found that the yeasted version of BBA pain a l’ancienne focaccia doesn’t brown more than a normal focaccia, so for SD purposes it might not help at all.
For the yeasted version the utility in my using cold water and a cold bulk ferment is flavor/texture development and timing/convenience. I’ll try one or more of these methods for a SD version and report back.

1 Like
(SingKevin) #28

Apologies, but for the benefit of us beginners, can you explain the logic for using your method? I am sure I am being dense (and a beginner), but I don’t see the advantage.

(Melissa) #29

Here’s an example of what I found intimidating as a beginner, but I suspect people find different aspects of baking easy/difficult.

Pardon my kinda funny looking attempt at avoiding copyright infringement : )

(Ledine) #30

This is fantastic. Made the sourdough version. Was out of honey so used maple syrup instead… the texture and taste was superb. I did everything by hand as were were at our RV…yes I keep a sourdough starter there. Considering our sketchy oven with no real temperature control I just cranked it up all the way and hoped for the best. Will repeat as much as possible this summer.

(Melissa) #31

Amazing results. Baking in a different kitchen and with no temp control on the oven – wow!

(Leah) #32

WOW! That looks amazing!