Herb Shallot Focaccia; Photo & Bakery courtesy of Rachel Oliver. 

Herb Shallot Focaccia; Photo & Bakery courtesy of Rachel Oliver. 

Herb Shallot Focaccia 

Recipe by Rachel Oliver

This recipe uses a biga, a traditional Italian pre-ferment made with flour, water and yeast. It should be made a day ahead of time. If you have a sourdough starter, you can substitute your starter for the biga.

The focaccia can be made with any dried herb on the inside. If using delicate fresh herbs, add at the end of baking time so they don't burn. Top with anything (shallots, tomatoes, etc). The version pictured above is topped with shallot, thyme, rosemary and oregano.

Ingredients for Biga (Starter)** 

  • 42 grams/1.5 oz water, heated to 55 degrees F
  • 73 grams/2.6 oz bread flour 
  • 1/4 tsp yeast, instant dry 

Ingredients for Final Dough

  • 232 grams/8.2 oz water, heated to 75-78 degrees F 
  • All of the biga (or sourdough starter) 
  • 18 grams/0.6 oz olive Oil 
  • 231 grams/8.2 oz bread Flour
  • 2 grams/0.1 oz yeast, instant dry 
  • 7 grams/0.2 oz salt 

**Remember! Mix biga (or feed your sourdough starter) the day before you make the final dough. 

  1. Mix: combine biga, water and olive oil in large bowl. Break down the biga into small pieces. Add the flour mixed with yeast, followed by the salt. Mix for 5 minutes, squeezing and working the dough to develop some gluten. 
  2. Bulk ferment: 2 hours, folding after 1 hour. 
  3. Lightly round the dough. Dip the bottom in semolina flour or cornmeal and place on a parchment lined sheet try. Brush with olive oil and let sit 20 minutes. 
  4. Using your fingertips, gently press into the dough and shape into a flattened, round shape. 
  5. Let sit 40 minutes - 1 hour, the dough should almost double. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F during this time. Put a shallow dish of water in the oven to generate steam. 
  6. Prep for oven: press gently with fingertips to release large air pockets. Place toppings on and brush with olive oil. 
  7. Spray bread lightly with water. Put the bread in the oven and turn the temperature down to 450 degrees. Let bake 10-15 minutes with the dish of water, then remove water from oven. Continue baking 15-25 minutes until the bread is nicely browned. 
  8. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt after baking while bread is still warm.