Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 15-18 min
Serves: well, it can serve as many as you’d like, but it makes about 3 store-sized bread loaves
Recommended Sides: Butter, Jam, or the fixins for a meaty sammich.
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbs yeast (I thought this was maybe a bit much, 1 or 1 1/2 should suffice)
3 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs salt
1/3 cup olive oil
6-7 cups flour (I used bread flour, specifically)
1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped
1 Tbs butter
Step 1: Make it fizzle
Well, the real “Step 1” should be to make sure that your yeast isn’t expired by about a year… like ours was. (We did end up buying new yeast though, just to be safe.) — Does yeast go bad?
Moving on… Step 1: Make it fizzle
Combine the warm water, yeast, sugar and vinegar, and whisk together. Let sit for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is starting to bubble and look fizzy. Personally, I’d recommend whisking it a couple times within that five minutes, just to make sure it’s all incorporating all right.
Step 2: Combine and watch it grow!
Add olive oil and flour and knead together, adding flour as needed, if it’s too sticky. Add salt once you have an actual dough consistency. The dough should still be moist, but not so bad that it would stick to the wall, you know, should you throw it there in frustration. It’s really not that hard though. Once you have a nice lump of dough, cover with cling wrap and put outside (I put it outside because it was about 80 degrees and humid). If you’re not doing this during the summer, however, put it in your oven on its lowest setting with a bowl of water next to it to keep it humid. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Step 3: Shake, rattle and roll. Or just cut and roll, whatever.
Once you’ve let the dough proof (or rise, if you will) it should be a bit bigger than when you last saw it. This is because the yeast is fermenting, creating air pockets in the dough. It’s growing like the blob, right? Don’t be alarmed… Cut the bread into 3 or 4 equal amounts (or however many loaves you would like to make). Preheat your oven to 425.
I’ve found the best way form the bread is to fold it and form it. Flatten your dough, just a little bit, not like with a rolling pin, just so that its even density throughout. Fold the top down and the bottom up, so that they meet in the middle. Do the same now with the sides, meeting them in the middle. Now turn the dough so that there will be one horizontal line along the bottom of the loaf. Fold your dough in half, pushing the dough toward the inside with your thumb, forming a torpedo shape.
If you want to be adventurous, like me, take the rosemary, garlic and butter ingredients as listed above, and fold into the dough during the folding process. (DELISH)
Step 4: The waiting and baking game
Let your loaves rest for about 10 more minutes, or until your oven is done preheating to 425. Take a knife and slice diagonal bands down your loaf, for looks. Keep in mind that although inevitably “the first cut is the deepest,) you don’t have to slice too deep, as the bread will open up nicely within the cuts.
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray, or sprinkle cornmeal and then place your loaves on top. Bake at 425 for about 15-18 minutes. The best way to check if your bread is done is to hold the loaf (probably with a towel, as it will be hot) and look at the bottom. If the bottom is still very light, it may need more time. Test #2, tap the bottom with a couple fingers. If it sounds hollow, and the bread is “springy” then it should be done. When in doubt, turn the heat down to about 300 and give it 5 more minutes.
Step 5: Devour-age