(version updated on Dec 28th, to correct a mistake in the recipe)

This past week I got a very special gift: a jar of homemade chili jam, made by my stepson’s girlfriend Carly, a gorgeous actress, who is also smart, witty, and a great cook.  Yeah, some people have it all!   😉 She made the jam by adapting a basic recipe from Nigella Lawson, that you can find here.  It is very flavorful, and looks quite dramatic as you hold the jar against the light revealing red speckles dispersed throughout the jam.  I wanted to make something special with it, and my first “experiment” turned it into topping for a sourdough focaccia.   A successful experiment all the way!

(adapted from Chilli and Chocolate)

for the sourdough sponge:
195 g liquid starter (3/4 cup at about 100% hydration)
125 g warm water (1/2 cup)
25 g olive oil (2 T)
10 g honey (1 + 1/2 tsp)
50 g flour (1/2 cup)

for the final dough:
all the sponge made as described
50 g olive oil (1/4 cup)
200 g all purpose flour (2 cups)
1 tsp sea salt

to bake the focaccia:
4 T olive oil
herbs of your choice, minced
2 T chili jam, preferably homemade
coarse or flake salt

Mix all the ingredients for the sponge in a medium size bowl, cover and let it ferment at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until the surface is covered with small bubbles.

Add the ingredients for the final dough and mix until they form a shaggy mass. Let it rest for 15 minutes, then knead quickly folding the dough on itself 10 times (no need to remove from the bowl). Let the dough rest 15 minutes, and repeat this quick kneading process. Repeat for a total of 4 cycles of kneading, each with 15 minutes rest.  Shape the dough into a smooth ball, place in a lightly oiled bowl, and let it rise until almost doubled (1.5 to 2 hours).

Alternatively, place it in the fridge overnight, transferring to room temperature 2 hours before baking.

Cover a 9 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper, and add 2 T olive oil to the paper, spreading it well.  Put the dough in the pan and press gently until it covers the whole surface.   If the dough is resisting your attempts to stretch it, wait for 5 minutes until the gluten relaxes, and do it again.  Cover lightly and let it rise for 30 minutes, while you heat the oven to 450F.

Using the tip of your fingers, make indentations all over the dough, spread the remaining 2 T of olive oil all over, sprinkle herbs of your choice on half the focaccia.  If your chili jam is too thick, thin it slightly with a little olive oil, and spread on the other half of the focaccia.   Add salt all over the dough, and bake until golden brown on top, about 25 minutes.   If the jam seems to be burning,
reduce the temperature slightly.

Let it cool over a rack before you slice it in squares, and…


to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  I’ve blogged before about my favorite  focaccia, very quick to put together. This version,  leavened exclusively with wild yeast, takes longer to prepare, but the flavor is exactly what I was hoping for to go along with the chili jam.   I had a few unexpected commitments during the preparation, so the dough went to the fridge overnight,  no harm done.  The focaccia, even baked in our small electric oven, turned out delicious!    The chili jam (thank you, Carly!) is hot, but not overly so, and the contrast of the slight sourness of the bread with the sweet heat of the jam made this simple focaccia quite addictive.  Make sure to add salt on top right before baking, it will intensify all flavors.

By the way,  chili and chilli are both accepted spellings for the word.   Pick your favorite spelling, but whatever you choose, make this focaccia, it’s a winner!

I am submitting this post to Susan’s  Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: Merry Christmas!


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  1. I’m just stopping by to wish you a merry happy Christmas as a turkey roasts in my oven. We are going over to my sister’s house, bringing food. It’s sort of a sad time, with my father falling deeper into alzheimer’s, so I’m thinking of all the lovely people I know all over the world and how grateful I am for my good life and fine friends.


    • Tess, so sorry about your Dad’s situation, it’s a very sad illness, very hard for family and friends to cope with.
      I wish you a merry Christmas too, and look forward to following your blog next year, I learn a lot from it.


  2. This looks gorgeous and will definitely be on the breakfast table here sometime over the next week. Or at least something similar as I don’t have chilli jam – perhaps with some tapenade and a sprinkle of cayenne.
    Happy holidays to you and yours, Sally.


  3. Hi Sally,
    I tried your focaccia recipe, and followed it precisely, but unfortunately mine did not rise at all…. it is very flat. Do u have any tips and suggestions?
    thanks, Irene


    • Gosh, Irene… don’t you HATE when this happens? Was your starter very active and bubbly when you mixed the dough? Your kitchen maybe a little too cold? Another thing could be the salt, if you added more or added it twice by mistake (I made that mistake in the past) – that could slow down fermentation quite a bit and result in a dough that appears not to rise at all for a long time

      you know, quite often in the lab things don’t work – the students ask me why it didn’t work, and once we go over the basics, we cannot always figure it out. It can be frustrating and disappointing, but when we are dealing with living organisms, the unexpected might happen… I hope you can try it again, maybe refreshing your starter a few times and catching it when it’s all the way up, or when it just collapsed down, which indicates its power is pretty much at the maximum level

      and, by the way, I made a bread about a month ago that did not even involve sourdough starter, but turned out pathetic, and I followed the recipe to a T – it was a recipe from King Arthur’s website, and I still don’t quite understand what went wrong… so at least, I can tell you this: you are NOT alone! 😉



  5. Hi there, I came across your site from the comments section on the King Arthur flour website recipe for sourdough popovers. I love your variety of recipes!

    Since I know you have sourdough starter at home, I was wondering if you have every tried making a sourdough focaccia recipe with starter instead of the sponge? Thanks,


  6. Pingback: Sourdough Focaccia with Basil and Laverstoke Park Farm Mozzarella | Fromage Homage

  7. Pingback: ≫ Focaccia de masa fermentada con albahaca y mozzarella de Laverstoke Park Farm

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