Focaccia from Poolish


Focaccia is Italian, poolish is Polish by way of Vienna through France. Focaccia is quite well-known in French cooking. The Burgundy region knows it as foisse. Provance and most of the rest of France knows it as fougasse.

Poolish fermentation gives a much fuller flavor to just about any bread, so this is a nice variation. It takes much longer than the simple focaccia recipes that can be whipped together in almost no time at all. But – longer fermentation generally means more flavor – and so it is here.

Focaccia is quite ancient. It goes back past ancient Rome to either Etruscan or Greek roots. There are as many variations as there are cooks. You can use herb infused oil. You can add meaty toppings. You can add sweet toppings. You can treat it like pizza dough or sandwich bread. It is frequently served as a side and dipped into olive oil. You can do anything you like with this basic recipe. This is pretty much a large flat bread. The recipe can be scaled up or down to your needs.


188 g bread flour (1-1/4 cups)
180 g water (3/4 cups)
1/8 tsp yeast (a good pinch from a standard pack)


all poolish
200 g bread flour (1-1/3 cups)
7 g salt (1 tsp)
the rest of the yeast package
45 g olive oil (3 Tbs)
90 g water (3/8 cup)
60 g Herb Oil (1/4 cup)

—–Herb Oil—–

120 g olive oil (1/2 cup)

—–Poolish —–

Mix the flour and water with a good pinch of yeast until it is all incorporated. Cover and let rise overnight.

If you are going to make an herb-infused oil now would be a good time to warm the oil and add the herbs. Crush the herbs with a mortar and pestle as needed and dump them into the warm oil to soak overnight is the simplest way.

—– Dough —–

Mix everything together for 3 minutes on low speed and then 3 minutes on second speed. If you are masochistic enough to mix by hand then just keep stirring until you arm falls off. It is too sticky a dough to be kneaded.

—– Stretching, Folding, Forming —–

Turn out onto a heavily floured work surface. Flour the upper surface and pat it out into a large rectangle. Stretch and fold in half, then fold the side in by thirds. Pat the folded sandwich down so that it is about the original size and thickness. Lube the top with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap.

  1. Ferment 30 minutes. Repeat above procedure, folding opposite direction from before.
  2. Ferment 30 minutes. Repeat above procedure, folding opposite direction from before.
  3. Ferment 30 minutes. Repeat above procedure, folding opposite direction from before.

Place the sandwich onto a jelly roll pan lined with oiled parchment paper and lube well with oil. A double recipe takes a 17” x 12” pan. Use a pan sized to your batch.

Ferment one hour.

Pour 1/4 cup of oil (infused if you are using it). With only your finger tips poke the dough down and spread it out without getting it too thin. You do NOT want to flatten that last rise. The dough should pretty well fill your pan and be dimpled all over where your finger tips have pushed into it.


Photo from “Flour on My Face” blog by Arlene Mobley

Ferment 2 hours, covered with plastic wrap.

Add some more oil and poke it down if it looks like it needs it. Sprinkle with salt to your liking. Add any doo-dads that you want. If there are any really big, thin bubbles you might as well pop them now.

—– Baking —–

Preheat the oven to 500°F. When you put the dough into the oven then lower the temp to 450°F. After 10 minutes turn the pan if your oven does not cook evenly. Total cooking 20 to 25 minutes. So if you rotated the dough give it another 10 to 15 minutes. What you want is about 200°F at the center of the bread. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before indulging. This – by the way – is what is called baking in a falling oven. This is an attempt to mimic the action of the old stone ovens – quite historical, actually.

If you are using toppings that burn you might want to add them during the last few minutes of cooking. If you are doing an infusion with your oil do try to use fresh herbs. They work better. A real traditional would be some onions, some olives, some garlic, all chopped up and slowly infused overnight.

Yeah – this is where the pizza joints got their idea for their bread sticks.

{Herself Sez: I LOVE focaccia! I like the rich, olive-oiliness of it, and the flavor of the herbed oil that I dip it in. It’s a good thing the Ol’ Curmudgeon only makes it in half-batches, and freezes it in small-serving sizes. That keeps me from eating it too fast. (I’d eat it all – ALL – at one sitting, given the opportunity!) The Ol’ Curmudgeon doesn’t like it very much, so he makes it just for me. It is such a warm, rich experience being cherished this much! Kind of like focaccia dipped in warm herbed oil!}


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