Rosemary Chilli and Preserved Lemon Sourdough Focaccia

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There is something deliciously comforting and satisfying about eating soft, spongy rosemary, chilli and preserved lemon sourdough focaccia.  This focaccia is packed full of pockets of flavour.  I’ve used the mediterranean flavours of olive oil soaked rosemary and added a chilli and preserved lemon to pop the taste buds.  Have fun with olives, origanum, feta, sage, garlic, cherry tomatoes, pesto.  The possibilities are endless.  There are quicker and easier ways to make focaccia, but this sourdough focaccia is a slow ferment in the fridge for 12 hours.  My sourdough starter came from Alfonsina, a wild yeast, 102 (in 2021) years strong.  During lockdown in South Africa in 2020 I decided I would try my hand again at sourdough.  I had killed my precious starter, Charlie and one prior to Charlie, whom I didn’t know to name. This was another opportunity for me to give it a go.

Rusticus was born on 12 June 2020.

I am so proud that I have managed to keep him strong and healthy for over a year.  He is a very stable and active yeast culture and has persevered despite my lack of skill and knowledge.  I have had a few challenges that have taught me how not to make sourdough, but in all this time and with all the variables like quality of flour, temperature changes in summer, flooding of my dough with too much water and many many more too exhaustive to mention, he still produces amazing bread.  Brian eats it every day.  I’ve played around with adding nuts too just for a bit of variety.  We can’t go back to eating store bought bread.  Not ever!   This focaccia is just a tiny peak into my world of sourdough.  If you are starting out and are keen to give it a go, give a look in, this is where I received a world of support and improved my journey.  Knowing I had a community of like-minded people walking beside me, encouraging me and supporting my journey was invaluable.  Although the learning curve is steep, it is richly rewarding when your home is filled the the aroma of homemade sourdough.


Rosemary Chilli and Preserved Lemon Sourdough Focaccia

Italian focaccia soft and crispy with pockets of rosemary olive oil, little bites of chilli and bursts of preserved lemon
Servings 12 x 9cm x 9cm servings
Prep Time 1 day 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes


  • 450 g bread flour stone ground
  • 9 g salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 180 g sourdough starter mine is a solid starter or levain
  • 153 g potato cooked in the oven or boiled and cooled until soft then mashed
  • 45 g olive oil plus extra for glass dish and baking tray (2Tbls) cold pressed extra virgin
  • 315 g water filtered

Toppings for Focaccia

  • 4 sprigs rosemary finely chopped
  • 40 ml olive oil plus cold pressed extra virgin
  • 40 ml water filtered
  • 2 pinch sea salt flakes maldon
  • 1 chilli finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp preserved lemon roughly chopped


  • Whisk the flour and the salt together in a bowl
    450 g bread flour, 9 g salt
  • In the stand mixer bowl, add the starter, mashed potato, olive oil and water
    180 g sourdough starter, 153 g potato, 45 g olive oil plus extra for glass dish and baking tray (2Tbls), 315 g water
  • Using the stick blender, blitz the wet ingredients together until frothy
  • Place the mixer bowl in the stand mixer and attach the dough hook
  • Add the flour and salt mix to the wet ingredients and mix on med speed for about 15 minutes. Tip dough into glass dish sprinkled with olive oil. Cover loosely and leave for 1-2 hours to rest.
  • Cover tightly with lid and store in fridge for 12 hours
  • Remove dough from fridge and tip into oiled baking tray - using the heal of your palm, stretch and pull dough to fit the baking tray. Place in the off oven with the light on and a bowl of hot water on the bottom shelf for 2 hours to double in size.
    Sourdough Focaccia
  • Mix the toppings together in a glass dish and let stand whilst waiting for the dough the double in size
    4 sprigs rosemary, 40 ml olive oil plus, 40 ml water, 2 pinch sea salt flakes, 1 chilli, 2 tbsp preserved lemon
  • Poise your fingers into a piano playing position, dip them into the rosemary olive oil water mix and then into the dough creating little pockets for the mixed oil to collect. Once this is done there will be leftover herbs in the dish scatter these evenly over the focaccia and rest for an additional 30-60 minutes. This dough will be bubbly. Put oven on to 190ºC whilst waiting for dough the proof.  
  • Place baking tray in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. If you prefer a pale focaccia bake for less time. Check after 25 minutes to see if this is the colour you prefer.
  • Serve with any of your favourite Italian dishes or a bowl of soup

Check out this recipe for Stuffed Calamari

    Course: bread
    Cuisine: Italian
    Keyword: Bakery, bread


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