This cloudy, pillowy, crusty and herby sourdough focaccia studded with olives is a bread you'll be wanting to make over and over again. It's the perfect bread to slice up for a delicious sandwich, or to top with all sorts of tasty tidbits, or to simply dunk into a marinara sauce and chew on. Heaven.
If you followed along with our tutorial on how to make a sourdough starter from last week, you have a pot of bubbling starter in your kitchen now, waiting to be used in all kinds of delicious breads and more. Because you need two cups of sourdough starter for this focaccia, you will want to increase the amount of your starter. I did that by just adding a cup more of flour and ¾ of a cup of water to my starter the day before I baked this sourdough focaccia, which gave me plenty of starter for the bread with some left over to keep my starter going.
This focaccia takes a little time to make, although it's not dedicated time. You want to soak some of your flour overnight with the starter and then mix up the dough with the rest of the flour the following day. The dough is rather loose-- even more so than the dough for a ciabatta batter -- but that's what gives this bread those wonderful, airy holes, its soft, pillowy crumb, and that crispy, crackly crust.
I smashed together some garlic, black pepper, salt, a bouquet of savory herbs, and extra virgin olive oil -- along with kalamata olives -- to smear on top of my focaccia, but you can keep it simple and just brush on some garlic, salt, and herbs. As the bread rises in the oven, the olives sink into the crust and the flavor of the herbs wafts all around the house, making it smell rather like a holiday.
This bread bakes up in a large, 15-inch baking pan, so you'll have enough sourdough focaccia to feed an army or a rather hungry family. To make a smaller bread, halve the recipe and bake in a smaller pan.
Looking for more vegan bread recipes?
- Easy French Bread
- Christmas Wreath Rolls
- Onion Poppy Seed Rolls
- And check this out: All the Bread Recipes You'll Ever Need
Vegan Sourdough Focaccia
Vegan Garlicky Sourdough Focaccia
- 2 cups sourdough starter
- 2 ¼ cups water
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon herbs (for the topping, finely chopped. I used a mix of rosemary, lavender and sage. Use all or one. Thyme and oregano are great too)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Make the overnight starter by mixing together the sourdough, whole wheat flour and 1 cup all purpose flour. Mix well and let it stand overnight or for eight hours, covered, in a warm place.
- Add the salt, water and olive oil and knead in the remaining flour, half a cup at a time, until you have a fairly loose batter that just comes off the sides of the bowl but does not gather into a ball.
- Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let the dough rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Using a wooden ladle, turn the dough over on itself in the bowl gently about 9 or 10 times, trying not to deflate too many of the lovely bubbles that have formed.
- Oil or spray with oil a large, 15-inch baking sheet with sides.
- Pour the batter into the center of the sheet and, using a spatula or flat ladle, help it along so it nearly fills the pan.
- Brush on some olive oil to keep the batter from drying, but don't cover it up with a towel or cling wrap-- both will stick to the dough.
- Leave the baking pan in a warm place for an hour or until the dough has risen to fill the entire pan and has risen to the top of the pan.
- About half an hour before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Make the toppings by smashing together the herbs, garlic, olive oil, black pepper and salt in a mortar and pestle. You can use a food processor, but in that case don't add the olives. Process the herbs, oil, garlic, salt and pepper into a coarse paste. Smash the olives with a heavy knife, and then mix into the herb-oil mixture.
- Smear the olives-garlic-herb mixture on top of your risen focaccia as evenly as you can without deflating the dough.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly golden and the bread has started to pull from the sides. One way to tell your bread is done is to press it slightly, and if it springs back, you know it's ready.
- Let the bread cool on a rack at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
I’m so looking forward to making this bread! However, I’m a little confused as the recipe says that the baking time is 11 hours 30 minutes. I read through the recipe & I didn’t see that so I’m guessing a typo? It was just initially off putting when I first looked at it & almost said ‘no’ to the recipe.
Thanks for the heads up! Fixed now. Bake time is just 25 minutes, but rise time is overnight. 🙂
Oh my goodness, just absolutely delicious! I've have enjoyed your recipes as a non-vegan for quite some time and now even more since becoming vegan! Thank you so much!
Im not sure if this has been addressed already in the comments but do you need to feed the starter before adding? I fed my starter about a week ago and wondering if that is something I'll need to do before beginning this recipe.
Hi, yes, feed at least 8 hours before you make the bread!
Can the overnight ferment be continued longer, say till mid afternoon so I can bake it for dinner? Or maybe it could be in the fridge for that first 18 hrs or part of them? Just trying to figure out how to time it to come out of the oven for supper time.
Hi Gwyn, if you want to bake later, put the ferment overnight in the refrigerator, which will slow down the rise. Get it out about four hours before baking and leave it in a warm spot until it's time for the next step.
Can we make it without using a baking tray or is baking tray a mandate ? Sorry very Novice at Baking hence putting forward this question
A baking tray works best because of the volume but if you have a smaller baking pan divide the dough in half and bake in two batches.
Can you please include information on when the water should be added?
Many thanks in advance!
Hi Barbara, in step 2-- some of the recipes got scrambled when I moved to a new recipe plugin, but thanks for pointing out, and it's corrected now.
What a delicious focacia....I will make it again many times. So much better than store bought. I didn’t know when to add in the water so the overnight preferment was really dry and thick. You may want to amend the instructions. I added the water to it in the morning and carried out as per the recipe. Only made half because I didn’t have enough starter and used a 9” springform pan. Great results from a great recipe and wonderful side to a large salad. Thank you!
Thanks for your great recipes...
So in this recipe, do you add any water to the overnight sourdough+wheat flour+bread flour treatment? Or is it a hard, almost dry mix that is kept covered overnight? (Step 1 and Step 2). Kindly enlighten as I am sort of worried that I may mess up my next-morning levain.
I'd like to show you this prayer for Thanksgiving... It is a prayer that originated in the Jain community:
"Today we give thanks for this veg/vegan meal and the
people who have labored to harvest and prepare this
meal for us. We give thanks for the many lives that
have contributed to our lives. We also ask for
forgiveness from the living beings that we have
harmed, intentionally and unintentionally.
We are grateful for our health and the opportunity to
eat with others on this day. We aspire, with
compassionate hearts, to use the energy that we gain
from this meal and our friends to contribute to the
peace and happiness of all living beings.
We pray that all the people of the world will avoid
inflicting harm on animals and fellow human beings and
practice nonviolence and compassion. We express our
sorrow at the suffering of all the turkeys and other
animals that have died. May peace and compassion grow
in ourselves and extend to all around us."
Hi Vaishali. Thanks for the step by step on how to make sour dough starter. I was going to ask you for the steps since I got confused with the recipe on King Arthur's website. I am going to try it since I have been wanting to move away from baking powder and active dry/instant yeast in my baking for a very long time.
Hi Indhu, glad it's helpful. I find myself not using added yeast in most breads I bake these days. It's almost liberating. 🙂