* To get an interesting crust, try
dusting the dough liberally with flour before baking. If the dough seems "tight"
and hard work to knead, then add a few drops more water. Much will depend on the
age and type of your flour.
Olive Oil Loaf
3/4 C. warm water
4-1/2 C. unbleached bread flour
1 packet dry yeast
1 t. sea salt
4 T. olive oil
Pour 1/2 cup water into a large, warm bowl and with a fork whisk in a cup of the
flour and all the yeast. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place
for an hour or so until the mixture froths. After an hour, this sponge, as
it is known, will have become a warm mass of creamy bubbles and will have risen
Put the remaining flour into a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Pour in the
remaining water, sprinkle in the salt, then scoop in the frothing sponge. Gently
bring the ingredients together with your hand, in which case you should expect
to get in a sticky mess, or, if you are using a mixer, a flat beater dough hook.
After a minute of mixing, you will have a sticky dough. Drizzle half of the
olive oil over the top and loosely mix it in by lifting the dough and letting
the oil run under it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and return it to its warm
resting place for half an hour.
The dough should by now be glossy, soft and have doubled in size. Pour the rest
of the olive oil over the top then push your finger down all over the warm, wet
dough to make 30 holes or more. This is a thoroughly pleasurable task. Cover
once again and return it to the warm for a further 30 minutes.
When the dough is glistening and risen to twice its size, tip it out on to a
heavily floured work surface. Press the dough with your hands to deflate it,
pull it into a rough oval and place it on a floured baking sheet. Dust with
flour, cover with film and return it to the warm for the last time. Give it 30
minutes or until it starts to spread alarmingly. Remember this is a shallow
loaf. Set the oven at 475°F.
Drizzle a little more olive oil over the loaf, it will collect in the hollows
and creases in the surface. Put the tray on the middle shelf of the oven. After
5 minutes, reduce the temperature to 400°F. and continue to bake for 35 minutes.
Makes 1 loaf