Homemade Bread

When I asked Emily what she wanted for her birthday diner she asked for among other things homemade bread.  This is what I made and it was great.  This is adapted  from a book I found in the library and it is Martha Stewart's Baking Cookbook.  It makes a 12 inch round loaf and will keep at room temperature 4 days if well wrapped.

Rustic Italian Olive Oil Bread:

2 C. room temperature water
4 1/2 C. bread flour plus more for dusting
1 scant T. Instant Yeast
3/4 C. extra-virgin olive oil plus more for bowl and plastic wrap
1 T. coarse salt
Cornmeal for dusting

Combine in the large bowl of an electric mixer the water, flour, yeast, and olive oil and stir with a wooden spoon until all is well combined.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Let it rise in a warm place for 1 1/4 hours til double in bulk.

Attach the bowl to the mixer using the dough hook and add the salt.  Machine knead the dough to combine on low speed.  Raise the speed to medium and beat about 3 minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl but remains sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead for 1 minute and transfer to a large oiled bowl.   Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap.  let raise til double in bulk about an hour.

Note:  I use an old crock that I first fill with hot water from the tap then empty and dry to warm it to raise all my homemade breads.  I also spray olive oil spray on the plastic wrap then put a clean towel over the whole thing to hold in the warmth,

Return the dough to the lightly floured work surface.  Fold in the following way:  Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down,  and the right and left sides in toward the center tapping the dough after each fold to release and excess flour.  Press down to seal as you go along.  Flip the dough seam side down on the work surface, and cover with oiled plastic wrap.  Let it rest for 15 minutes.

Dust a large piece of parchment paper with cornmeal and position it on a peel or an edgeless cookie sheet suitable for sliding the dough and parchment onto a heated baking stone.  Set this aside.  Transfer the dough to a clean work surface you have lightly floured.  To shape the dough, cup it between your palms in a circular motion pulling down on the surface of the dough to form a tight. smooth round.  (The bottom of the dough should catch or drag a bit on the table as you roll; this will help it take it's shape.)    Transfer the round of dough to the prepared peel or flat pan.  Drape with an oiled piece of plastic wrap and let it rise about 30 minutes until slightly puffed.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place baking stone in the lower portion on the oven.

After the bread has risen use a lame or sharp blade to slash the loaf making four slashes to form a large square.  Slide the loaf on the parchment onto the stone, and bake until the crust is dark golden brown, about 35 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack to cool before slicing.   You are in for a real treat.

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