I’ve been so impressed with all the bread recipes in the MSBH. This Olive-Oil Bread is no exception – it’s one of those breads the proves how completely inferior store-bought bread is when compared to homemade. There is an enormity of flavor in this loaf made from just four ingredients; it is so worth the time it takes to make it (a few hours, most of it devoted to the rise). The recipe instructs you to use an electric mixer for the second kneading, but you certainly could get away with doing it by hand.
The recipe lends itself to some simple variations and I can’t wait to try it with flavored olive oil and/or dried herbs.
The final rise is done after forming the loaf into a boule and setting it atop a baker’s peel dusted with cornmeal. This seems unneccessary to me and I had some issues with getting the loaf off the peel and transferred onto the baking stone in the oven (I hadn’t used nearly enough cornmeal). In the future, I think I’ll just try baking it on an oiled piece of parchment and transfer that on to the stone with the loaf.
The boule is scored just before baking to let the dough expand.
You can see I ended up with a triangular-looking loaf. This is due to my loaf sticking to the peel. I had to do some fancy maneuvering to get it onto the baking stone and its round shape was destroyed in the process. C’est la vie.
I think the hardest part about baking bread at home is not slicing in to it immediately after it comes out of the oven. You have to have self-control.
What I love most about this bread is its rich olive oil flavor and its soft, light texture that feels like a cloud on your tongue. We ate most of it dipped in olive oil with some salt and seasonings before dinner. It was also fantastic with hummus and tapenade. And on the third day I made a panini with the remaining two slices and it’s now my all-time favorite panini bread.
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