Ever since I got into cooking, I have had this fear of making bread... and pie crusts... and other baking, dough-y things... it's so gooey and precise. BUT, since I was with Kristen and she has made bread before, we decided to try it out. We chose to make an olive bread - because apparently Kristen likes olives now? It turned out perfect! Next time I will add some fresh rosemary and thyme! For those of you that have the same block as me, try it out. Get some friends together for an afternoon or evening, watch a movie, and let the bread rise. The time will pass before you know it!
First combine 3 cups flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup chopped black olives (I used more), and 3 tablespoons olive oil. The instructions on the website say to combine the yeast and water with the ingredients, but we mixed the water and yeast first, then added it to the bowl. Heat 1 1/4 cups of water to 110 degrees and add 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast to it. Let it sit for a couple of minutes and stir it just a bit. If the yeast you are using has different instructions, follow those. Combine into the bowl and form into dough. Put the dough on a floured board to knead.
Knead for about ten minutes or until it becomes elastic. You'll know it's elastic when you pull a piece of dough out and it pulls itself back to the dough.
Grease a bowl and let the dough rise, covered with saran wrap for 45 minutes. It should double in size! This was a completely new and exciting experience for me. I was genuinely bouncy and excited when the dough actually doubled in size.
See?! Roll onto the board again, punch it down (literally, punch), and knead again for about 5 to 10 more minutes. Let rise for 30 more minutes; it will double in size again. Form a round ball of dough (don't knead this time). Place the top side of the dough upside down in a bowl lined with paper towels. Let it rise, uncovered, until it doubles in size. I gave it about 40 minutes.
Put a pan of water in the lower shelf of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 475. The recipe called for hotter temperatures for longer, and I decided that seemed like too much. Turn the bread out onto a cookie sheet that has been oiled and dusted with a couple of tablespoons of cornmeal. Actually use the cornmeal... it made a difference! If you need to form your loaf because it got a little crazy while rising, do so now. Also, cut an "X" in the top of the loaf so air can release.
Bake at 475 for fifteen minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 and bake for 15-20 minutes longer depending on your oven. It will look crusty and golden brown and delicious. Yum.
Have a dinner party... it will impress everyone!
Olive Bread- recipe courtesy of allrecipes.com
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped olives
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water, 110 degrees
1 tablespoon cornmeal