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Artisan Focaccia Bread Recipe - Easy But Good!

Updated on August 21, 2012

Recipe And Method For The Best Focaccia Bread In The World!

Easy to follow video instructions for making artisan focaccia bread with incredible flavor and texture. Germany-trained master baker George Eckrich of Whole Foods and Dr. Kracker fame explains how and why this focaccia bread recipe is the best ever. We learn a quick and easy way to make a sourdough starter (also called preferment, or poolish) for the depth of flavor and chewy texture associated with European artisan breads. A special trick by George allows us to have a perfect bread starter ready in only 6 hours, a process that normally takes at least 3 days!

You won't even need a mixer for this bread dough! Eveything is done by hand in a large bowl and the otherwise strenuous kneading procedure is replaced with an easy stretch-and-fold method. Let's get baking!

 

All Focaccia Bread Is Not The Same!

From dense and soft to crusty and chewy with an open pore crumb...

...of course there are thousands of bread recipes for everybody's taste and preferences, but what are the best qualities in a good loaf of bread? Let's ask George...

"What makes breads great? The quick and easy response is flavor and texture. But when we say flavor, do we mean their taste or their aroma? Remember that we can only taste four basic flavors: sour, sweet, salt and bitter, and a fifth, called umami, that has been recently described. Part of great bread is the manipulation of these five flavors, especially the sweet and bitter that can be found in an over-the-top crust where caramelized flavors predominate."

European artisan bread bakers have understood it for thousands of years: good bread begins with a carefully nurtured bread starter - a first batch of flour, yeast, sugar and water allowed to ferment before we begin with the actual bread dough. George says, "Killer focaccia begins with a preferment. A preferment is a catch-all term for sponges, sourdoughs and poolishes, these are standard ways bakers create more flavor. My normal poolish for focaccia is two cups of water, two cups of flour (1/4 cup of which is whole spelt flour-bacteria prosper with whole grains just like the human body- and 1 ¾ cups regular white bread flour), 1 tablespoon of sugar to nourish the yeast and 1 package of dry yeast. These ingredients ferment for 5 to 6 hours, depending on my program for the day, and this poolish creates a pleasantly sweet, yeasty aroma as well as a spongy texture - but no sour notes. My insight was to replace ¼ cup of the water with a German bread drink ( Brottrunk) which is like kombucha and rich in lactobacillus bacteria."

Both the German bread drink and kombucha are probiotic drinks with live but inactive bacteria. These bacteria are inactive because there is no more simple sugars for them to metabolize; they only need a new sugar medium to begin flourishing again. The flour in the recipe provides their food source, and the bacteria immediately awaken and acidify the poolish. Normally, a sourdough will take several days to start and will involve multiple feedings or builds. Easy enough to schedule in the bakery, but not at home. The beauty of using probiotic drinks like bread drink or kombucha is that during this 5 or 6 hour preferment they will not be able to overwhelm the yeasty flavor that is totally pleasant and very umami. At the same time, they will provide the missing sour note that tickles both the tongue and the nose. Moreover, this acidity will help improve the dough extensibility and create a more porous and intriguing structure of the crumb.

Meet Our Focaccia Bread Teacher George Eckrich - George wants to feed the world with healthy food!

We chat while we wait for the focaccia dough to rise...

Best Focaccia Bread Recipe - Step 1 - Making the preferment or poolish

Best Focaccia Bread Recipe - Step 2 - Mixing the dough

Best Focaccia Bread Recipe - Step 3 - The stretch-and-fold method

Best Focaccia Bread Recipe - Step 4 - Topping and baking

Focaccia Bread Recipe

Preferment:

1 ¾ cups water (80 degrees)

¼ cup probiotic drink: Kombucha or bread drink

2 cups of flour.

1 package dry yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

Dough:

1 cup water (80 degrees)

3 cups flour

(you might want to use 3 1/2 cups first, until you have more practice!)

1 package dry yeast

1 Tablespoon sea salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

Preferment from above

Please let us know how you like our method or if you know a better one, ok?

Thanks for stopping by! - Are you going to try this marvel of a focaccia recipe?

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    • profile image

      DebMartin 2 years ago

      I'm drooling. But can I do this? Fortunately I have a back-up Bakery nearby. ;-)

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      Kate 2 years ago

      I tried to make focaccia according to this recipe, it was my first time. I changed few things because I don't have bread dring or kombucha. It was good bud odd. It tasted like focaccia mixed with sourdough bread :D. It even looked like flat sourdough bread, it had colour like sourdough bread typical for Czech republic (where I live). Maybe next time =).

    • profile image

      Namkamura 2 years ago

      Angie, you are such a wonderful baker and I love the step by step incroustitns. I love baking bread but then rarely do it since I worry nobody in my family will help me to consume them. I have so many recipes lined up, and hopefully I will have family and friends coming over knocking on my door for treats and freshly baked breads ;). I found spelt recently in our local supermarket. Can't wait to try this out. Have a good week ahead! Huggss

    • chefkeem profile image
      Author

      Achim Thiemermann 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @val-law-3: I'm happy for you. Yes, it takes a little practice, but practice always tastes good. :)

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      val-law-3 3 years ago

      I am so proud of myself - I've made this focaccia about four times and although it has always tasted great, I have never quite got the texture right before. Today it's perfect -big bubbles and all! I topped it with rosemary, garlic, salt, black pepper and black olives - plenty of olive oil of course. It's crisp, chewy and delicious!

    • chefkeem profile image
      Author

      Achim Thiemermann 4 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @anonymous: Yes, it's close enough. :)

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Can you substitute kombucha for kanne?

    • javr profile image

      javr 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I will be trying this myself.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      After the first resting period of three hours, how long are the other resting periods? I didn't catch how long the bread should bake? Where can I purchase the Priobiotic and the German bread water -Whole foods? Is this the bread used for mediterranean sandwiches- cut across the middle layer?- for roasted eggplant sandwiches? Is this too chewy for older people to chew? g.lia99@yahoo.com. Loved your segment-Thank you! The ferment should just be left several hours overnight? Please send me the recipe including the fermentation period and the resting periods length along with the fold and stretch amount of time for each stage. Would you add these instructions to e-mail and to the post?

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      moonlitta 5 years ago

      Too time consuming for me, but unbelievably tasty without a doubt!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I followed the fresh baked aroma here but all the samples were already taken on this masterpiece artisan focaccia bread that would be good for any meal or snacking in between...I'm guessing there isn't much left for snacking later! Yummily done!

    • chefkeem profile image
      Author

      Achim Thiemermann 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @Mickie Gee: Thanks so much, Mickie! :)

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 5 years ago

      Yes, the fragrance of fresh bread is already permeating my nostrils. I must try this recipe. Pinned it and mentioned you on a Fragrance Quest!

    • chefkeem profile image
      Author

      Achim Thiemermann 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @anonymous: 2 1/2 teaspoons.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      how many grams of yeast is there in the package or what spoon measurement? level?

    • chefkeem profile image
      Author

      Achim Thiemermann 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      @anonymous: Thanks so much for the pinning! I appreciate it! :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I stopped by and PINNED this lens to my Pinterest boards and this lens is being RE-PINNED like crazy! So I gave it a GOOGLE +1 too! Hey! You're on a roll!! Keep up the good work! :)

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      Cool Lens. I Pinned it on my "Our Daily Bread" Board and gave it a big Squid Like; thanks for the really great information on making Focaccia.

    • JodiFromFlorida profile image

      JodiFromFlorida 5 years ago

      Interesting lens! I love focaccia.

    • wilddove6 profile image

      wilddove6 7 years ago

      Fantastic! Thank you so much for this!

      Although I baked bread for years, I never attempted a recipe with a starter. This looks easy!

      And I *love* the idea of the stretch and fold method rather than the knead and sweat method!

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      teacher007 7 years ago

      I was a cook on a shrimp boat in Louisiana for 2 years. We can do this bread. Thanks for the starter recipe, too.

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      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Wow! How can this be? That I would be the first visitor to comment and rate you're quite remarkable and artisan page. I dropped by to wish you a Happy new year and was on the lookout for something new and by gum I think I've found it. My recipes for focaccia have all come out of a box -- so thanks my dear. May you have a remarkable journey this year and do well with that Bavarian Restaurant. Hugs eternally!