Okay, so I may not be Popeye, but I am loving the ABin5 Olive Oil Bread a lot lately. For instance, just yesterday I had a wonderful little picnic spread right at my desk. What was on the menu you ask? Like many things, it started with a sandwich: crusty olive oil bread moistened with an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing and stuffed with salami, Laughing Cow cheese and lots of arugula. All the components were laid out on a paper towel placemat, and I sensed hungry coworker eyes coveting my lunch. Someday when summer comes, a ripe tomato and a slab of mozzarella would be good additions to this sandwich. Oh, and then for dessert, a warm slice of apfelkuchen from my secret stash. My new happy meal!
Olive Oil Bread
adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
As with other ABin5 breads, I'm assuming this bread's not a good keeper. But in my house it's always gone within a day, so I can't really say. It's great for pizza and other flatbreads, too.
2.75-3 c. lukewarm water
1.5 tbsp yeast
1.5 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
925 g unbleached all-purpose flour
Mix the lukewarm water, yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil together in a 6-qt. container. Add the flour and mix into the liquids with a sturdy wooden spoon or your hands until fully incorporated. The dough will look lumpy. If the dough seems very stiff, add a little more lukewarm water (note: this dough is not as slack as the ABin5 Basic Boule). Cover the container with a non-airtight lid and let sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, where it can do its rising/collapsing thing. Refrigerate in the lidded container and use over the next 12 days.
Sprinkle cornmeal generously on an 8" or so piece of parchment and set aside. Cut off a hunk of dough about the size of a grapefruit. Sprinkle flour on the dough and quickly smooth the surface while shaping it into a round, taut ball -- start by cupping your hands lightly on the top of the dough and bringing them together at the bottom, pulling the surface of the dough into a smooth skin. Do this a few times, giving the dough a quarter turn each time. You may need to twist together the excess dough that's collected on the bottom (like turning a knob). Place the dough on the parchment and let it rest for about 1 hour. Preheat the oven and baking tile at 450°F, 30 minutes before baking.
Make at least two 1/2" deep slashes on the top of the dough. Transfer the dough and parchment onto the baking tile. Cover the dough with a 4" deep disposable aluminum roasting pan, that's large enough to accommodate the dough's expansion. After 20 minutes, remove the pan and slide the parchment out from under the dough. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes more; it is done when the crust is a beautiful golden brown (also, internal temp. of 210-220°F). Allow the loaf to cool on a rack. Warning: this is when it's most likely to vanish into thin air.
Optional dough additions to try: 2 tsp. of dried Italian herbs, 3 tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese