We had Garlic Soup again last night and I just wish that I had made some bread to go with it - but there wasn't enough time. Mom never made bread - either it just didn't interest her or she felt it was too much work. I like making bread and living with a Greek-American I've learned that bread is a staple that you can never be without. But I really need to get a baking stone for the oven the make good bread with a great crust.
This recipe is from Saveur magazine which I absolutely adore. A few years ago I let most of my subscriptions run out - no time for magazines! But this is the only one I kept and I also give as a gift to friends around the holidays. It isn't just recipes - it is more like the anthropology of food. Saveur will take one ingredient like bacon and devote the entire issue to its history, how different cultures use it, etc.
In this recipe, I tend to use a little less olive oil than the recipes states - I find the bread can be a bit oily. I also tend to double the recipe and make two loves since it is usually devoured quickly in my house!
3 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 7 gram package active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp salt
1. Make a poolish: Put 1/1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and 1 cup warm water into a large bowl and stir well with wooden spoon to combine. Let the mixture sit in a warm spot until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
2. Add remaining flour, ¾ cup oil, and salt to the poolish and stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes. (I have used the dough hook on my KitchenAid mixer for this)
3. Grease a large clean bowl with the remaning oil, place dough in the bottom, and cover with a clean towel. Set the dough aside in warm spot to let rise until doubled in bulk, 3-4 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently turn dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper and gently stretch is with your fingers to form a large rectangle. Carefully transfer the dough – on the parchment paper – to a large baking sheet and bake until golden brown and puffed, about 15-20 minutes.
5. Remove the bread from the oven and immediately brush the top and sides with 2 tbsp hot water to soften the crust. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Transfer the bread to a rack to let cool, or serve warm, if you like.
SERVING: Remember to tear the bread into pieces – tradition says that cutting it might sever your friendship with the people at the table.