This post is by special request from Cliff, whose Regensblog is so rich with recipes it could be tweaked to that of a 100% foodie if he and Sarah wanted to. I make their Dutch Apple pie at least a half-dozen times a year.
I haven’t done a recipe post since my televised pizza fiasco a few years back, but now I’ve got two lined up.
First: the Bread Bible, pictured at left. I hope the author Rose Levy Berenbaum doesn’t kill me for reproducing her recipe and thereby breaking whatever copyright she has over it. As compensation she gets free publicity and a raving review from this one very satisfied bread baker whose undying loyalty to her methods will surely …. OK, you get the point.
This olive oil bread I’ve now made three times and always as a double batch. The ingredients are really easy to work with and can be bought at any store. Don’t go all organic if you don’t want to. I use normal unbleached white flour – the cheap stuff they call 405 here – mixed in with organic whole wheat.
Here’s the shopping list for a single batch:
Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds: 28 grams or 3 tablespoons each
Cracked flaxseed: 27 grams or 2.5 tablespoons. You should toast these seeds a bit in the oven.
White flour: 250 grams or 1 and 2/3 cups.
Whole wheat flour: 88 grams 2/3 cup. (She says scant 2/3 cups, whatever the heck that means.)
Instant yeast: 2.4 grams or 3/4 teaspoon
Water at room temp: 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, or 266 ml (grams if weighing)
Extra virgin olive oil: 1/4 cup or 54 grams
Salt: 1 and 1/8 teaspoon, or 7.4 grams.
I do everything by hand.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and gather to a ball and start kneading for five minutes. It will be very sticky, but try to resist the urge to add too much extra flour. You should have a decent dough scraper to work with.
Then let the flour “rest” for 20 minutes under an inverted bowl. That helps make it less sticky, and easier to work with.
Knead about five more minutes, then set in a covered container big enough to allow to rise, then let it rise for about 90 minutes.
When doubled, pat it down gently but don’t knead the heck out of it. Just turn it a couple of times and put it back in the bowl to rise again.
When it’s risen a second time, shape your dough into the pan – I butter mine first – and let it rise uncovered. When the dough has risen about an inch above the rim of the pan, put it in the hot oven – 230C or 450F – for the first five minutes, then lower it to 200C or 400F for about 40 to 45 minutes.
You don’t even need a pan. You can prepare a pizza stone and bake it like a country-style round loaf. I don’t bother to do that because I like even slices. So boring.
A thing about salt and yeast: they say that salt coming into contact with yeast will kill it. To be extra sure this doesn’t happen, I always add the salt after the first rising. You might have other ways to add the salt.
One thing you may have noticed about the measurements given is that the author of the Bread Bible is an incredible exacto-nut. She has her weights and measures down to the last gram and 1/16th of a teaspoon. All well and good, but it’s a wee bit too stressful for duffing it in the kitchen like I’m doing.
Still, I try to get the measurements right, and if you’ve already got a decent digital kitchen scale, it pays to use it for baking bread because the volume of one type of flour is going to be different from others. Weighing your stuff takes out the guesswork. For really small amounts – like measuring the yeast – I use spoon measures and that works out fine.
Berenbaum also recommends getting see-through containers so that you can gauge exactly when the dough has doubled in volume. Again, I just give it at least an hour, check it, if it looks like it could go a little more, then give it 15-30 minutes more. If you have a bread-rising setting in your oven, use it. Makes a nice, warm place for the dough to do its thing.
If you do get the book she also recommends a slew of things I don’t bother with. For example, she’ll tell you to pre-heat your oven an hour before putting the bread in. WTF? We actually pay electricity bills with bite here in the real world. I don’t know about you in North-America la-la-land, but there’s no way in hell I’m going to pre-heat an oven five minutes longer than necessary.
She’ll also say to throw in a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven when you put the bread in. I guess that’s for some added moisture, but I’ve never done it and never felt my results were lousy. I’ve nothing to compare with of course, but we’ve been happily eating her breads without the fancy extras, and will keep on doing so.
Anyway, this is what it should look like sliced open:
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a step or there’ll be a question or two, so if you have any, fire away. Please don’t be bothered if I don’t respond right away, as this bread, native to Tuscany, gives you a broad hint as to where we’ll be over the next couple of weeks.