I actually learned this as 2 separate recipes through the book Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day. I really recommend this book, as well as Healthy Breads in Five Minutes a Day. Both are full of great advice and recipes! You can omit the olives, omit the herbs, add black olives instead, add a cup of cheddar to the initial dough, really there isn't a lot you can't add, and it's delicious even plain!
For this particular Instructable, you will need:
6 1/2 Cups Flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 1/2 Tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 Tablespoons Kosher or other course salt
3 Cups Lukewarm Water
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1/2 Teaspoon Rosemary
25-30 small green olives
Pizza Peel or large flat surface you can "slide" the bread off of
Cornmeal for the Peel or Surface above
A mug of water
A sharp knife
A butter knife
A spatula ( I like using my BBQ one since it's handle is so long)
Large bowl or bucket with lid (Ice cream buckets work great!)
aaaaaand of course, an Oven!
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Step 1: Measure and Dump!
Start with your 1 1/2 Tbsp Yeast, 1 1/2 Tbsp Salt, 1 tsp Thyme, 1/2 tsp Rosemary...dump into bucket.
Step 2: Stir It Up! Little Darlin...
You want 3 cups of lukewarm water. I always run my wrist under the faucet to get water that feels right...you want it to be about the same temperature as you! Not too hot, not too cold. Make sure you get down eye level with your measuring cup! Add to your bucket and whisk it!
Step 3: Flour Power!
Now to add the flour. You want to add the flour using the "Scoop and Sweep" method. Make sure you don't pack the flour down or you will end up with dough that's too dry. Scoop your cup of flour out of the flour container, then sweep the straight edge of a butter knife across the top to level it off. 6 1/2 cups! Dump them in, making sure to keep count, because nothing sucks more than forgetting if you are on scoop 4 or scoop 5 when you are enhancing your breadmaking skills with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. Of course you could measure into a separate bowl to avoid this, but I hate doing dishes!
Now, stir with your spoon until all the flour is incorporated. It doesn't have to be smooth, just make sure there are not any obvious pockets of flour or water hanging out.
Step 4: Cover and Wait!!
Now, place the lid on, pull one side up a bit so you DON"T have an airtight seal. There are little yeasty gas bubbles that need to escape! Put the bucket somewhere warm and out of the way for at least 2 hours.
Step 5: To Bake or Not to Bake...that Is the Question!!
After your waiting period, your dough should have roughly doubled in size. You can form your loaf or boule at this point, but I usually start the process the day before I want the bread, since I like to work with cold dough better, it's easier. If you are baking now, move onto next step, if not, just put the bucket in the fridge until you are ready to bake. The dough can stay in your fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Step 6: Prep Your Stuff!
The first thing you want to do is cut up your olives. Started with about 30 but couldn't resist chomping a couple. Cut them in half and put to the side.
Next, grab your peel or other portable flat surface ( a cutting board will work too) and dust with a liberal coat of cornmeal, so you can easily slide your boule(s) off onto your hot baking stone!
Step 7: Big Bodacious Boules!
Dust your counter with a bit of flour, then drop some on top of your dough. Pull or cut off a grapefruit sized hunk of dough. Form into a ball by pulling the sides around and tucking them up underneath, rotating a quarter turn as you go. This step forms the "gluten cloak" that gives you a nice crust.
At this point, you can either set your ball on your dusted peel to rest or if you are adding olives, flatten your dough ball out to about 1/2 inch thick. Cover somewhat uniformly with green olives. Roll up dough jelly roll style, then tuck the ends in.
Flip the dough over and smooth the surface carefully not to pull any olives through. Now let the loaf rest on your peel. You will be ready to bake after 40 minutes.
Step 8: Final Prep and Bake!
Place your baking stone on the middle rack of the oven, and place a shallow pan on the bottom rack, underneath your stone. About 20 minutes before you are ready to get them in the oven, Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. My oven actually runs 50-100 degrees hotter than the knob says depending on the weather and it's mood, so I swear by my trusty oven thermometer. My first attempted boules looked like exploded mushrooms and got way too dark on top.
While you wait for your oven to preheat, dust a small amount of flour on top of your boules and slash them to prevent them cracking open. You can do different designs, but I stick to the "tick tac toe" pattern and some simple slashes. When slashing your dough, don't cut too deep, especially the olive loaf or you might loose olives!
Fill your mug with tap water and grab an oven mit, then open your oven, slide the boule(s) onto the stone by a quick forward jerk of your peel. Quickly grab your oven mitt, pull the shallow pan out a bit and pour the mug of water in the pan, being careful not to burn yourself or keep your hand there long enough for the steam to scald you, then shut the oven as quickly as you can to trap the steam in the oven.
Bake at 450 for about 30 minutes until your boule(s) are nicely browned. Place on rack to cool for at least 30 minutes. You may hear a crackling as your boule(s) cool, don't be alarmed! Its your crust adjusting to the temperature change.
Step 9: Enjoy!
I often eat the bread plain, but of course butter is fantastic on your bread. Sometimes I will soften a stick and add some garlic powder and pepper and make flavored butter. I also like softened cream cheese, or other soft spreadable flavored cheese on my bread =).
The boys were left with strict instructions to EAT the rest of the bread before I get home from work....Otherwise I will eat a loaf at a time!
Thanks for taking the time to read my Instructable. If you have any questions or I missed anything, or I didn't make sense somewhere please leave me a comment. Just be gentle.
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