Two Half-Baking Sheet Sized Flat Breads
I was looking for a recipe for sourdough pizza dough, and this was the closest thing I could find. It ended up not really being a pizza dough, but probably the best focaccia I have ever tasted. Tender, soft, chewy, full of holes, kind of squishy on the inside and crispy on the very outside. This bread really benefits from seasoning and toppings. The more you load it up with tasty, savory ingredients, the better it is.
This recipe is adapted from Nancy Silverton’s Breads from La Brea Bakery Focaccia and Rustic Bread recipes.
- 2.00 cups Sourdough Starter
- 8.75 cups Bread Flour
- 2.75 cups Water
- 0.50 tsp. Instant Yeast
- 1.00 tbs. Salt
- 3.00 tbs. Milk
- 3.00 tbs. Olive Oil
This bread is best made in a mixer with a dough hook attachment. The dough is very soft and is just too difficult to manipulate with your hands or even by hand with a spoon. It is an amorphous blob that sticks to everything.
Mix the starter, flour, yeast, and water into the mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for 6-8 minutes. Turn of the mixer and let it rest for about 20 minutes.
Add the salt and mix on medium for about 2 minutes until the salt is fully incorporated. While you’re waiting, mix the milk and olive oil together in a bowl and then add that gradually to the mixing bowl. Once the liquids have been absorbed and won’t fly out of the bowl, turn the mixer to high speed and mix until smooth and airy, about 5 more minutes.
Remove the bowl and disconnect the dough hook. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it doubles, about 2-3 hours.
Preheat the oven about an hour before baking. Use the initial temperature that you know works for for other breads that you have baked. I set mine halfway between 475 and 500.
Dump the dough out on a floured board and cut it based upon the shapes you want to bake. I was able to fill two half-sized baking sheets completely with this recipe, but you can also make round pizza-shaped breads or smaller individual shapes. At any rate, decide what you’re going to do and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
Move the pieces of dough to the baking sheets and shape by squishing, pulling and smashing the dough where you want it to go. Don’t worry about squeezing the air out. It will have plenty of rise left in it. When your shapes are complete and fairly uniform in thickness, cover with a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Uncover the bread and brush with olive oil. Season and add toppings as you like. Nancy Silverton recommends weighing the bread down with a lot of heavy toppings so it reduces the rise in the oven, but I like the taller, puffier texture. So I recommend erring on the side of strong flavors rather than piling up heavy layers.
Bake according to the standard white bread recipe. Spray the oven with water before adding the bread. Reduce the oven 50 degrees after adding the bread and spray with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking. Bake 15 minutes and check to see if it needs rotating to cook evenly. Bake another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
The amount of water you will need is dependent upon the hydration of your starter and the temperature of the kitchen and your ingredients. Warmer temperature means less water. If your starter is a thick, rubbery paste like mine, you may need as much as a cup of additional water. The dough should be watery and airy. It should flow around the bowl and your hands and stick to everything, almost like liquid marshmallow. It should defy kneading.
Other than getting the amount of water correct, it is hard to screw up.