Bread scares me. It's so "scientific". And it takes a long time, you gotta let it rise, knead, rise again, wait, etc...Takes a lot patience. Of course, when it's well done the result is amazing. Nothing beats fresh bread out of the oven. And the smell...well, you all know what I mean.
So today I decided to make bread. I had done this recipe before a long time ago so I knew it wasn't gonna be too difficult(it's actually pretty simple, if you get it right). Unfortunately I had to throw away the first attempt. It just wasn't rising. I think the water was too cold in the start. So the yeast didn't activate. Ok, so I tried again, it's a lot of wasted flour if this one fails too but if I don't try I'll never get it. So I got back at it. And the second one worked! The dough was kinda sticky, I had to ADD flour while kneading the second time, but that water was warm enough so the dough rose as it was supposed to. Yessssssss.....
Ok, so you really wanna try some really good and relatively easy bread? This one's awesome. It's not your average toast loaf, but it's great for dipping in soups, stews, or chili(i had that chili also tonight!), makes great sandwiches "panini style", or just eat as it is with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
*Here's a good dip: 1 part balsamic vinegar, 3 parts oil, cracked black pepper, and 1-2 pieces smashed sundried tomatoes. Yum.
Ok so for this bread you'll need:
3 1/3 cups all-purpose or bread flour(as I said I had to add more but I don't know how much so start with 3 1/3 cups).
1 heaping teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
1 cup warm water(120F: VERY IMPORTANT=120F!!)
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoon dry rosemary, oregano, thyme, or a mix of the 3.(you can use fresh if you have it!!)
*You can do this in a food processor but I did it by hand and it worked fine...just kinda messy...
-Combine flour and salt and mix well.
-Add yeast, mix well.
-Add water and oil at the same time while pulsing(if you're using the processor)or stirring with a fork. If you need more flour, go for it, 1-2 Tbsp at a time. When the dough comes together in a ball transfer to a very well floured surface and knead until smooth(it took me about 2-3 minutes). This is where it might be a little sticky,...but DON'T PANIC!
-Put the dough in an oil bowl and cover with a dish towel.
-Set aside in a warm dry place and let it rise for 1-1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
-Preheat the oven at 450F and set the rack in the middle.
-Slice the garlic. Mix with the herbs(but keep about 1 tsp for sprinkling).
-When the dough is ready, knead in the garlic and herbs(for about 1 minute), flatten it into a disk and with a rolling pin roll it out to about 1/4 inch think. Here you can choose its shape: round, oval, square, or just as it turns out...
-Set on an oiled baking sheet.
-Poke some holes in the dough with a fork, and sprinkle some salt and what's left of the herbs.
-Cover again and let it rise another 20-30 minutes.....................
-Brush with olive oil.
-Bake for about 20 minutes.
*A good way to tell if it's done: if you tap on it it'll sound hollow.
-Let it cool a bit and enjoy!