Sunday means two things are true… one, I will be attempting a post-church nap (and if you’ve seen the energy required in keeping my two boys under control during church, you would understand this.) Secondly, it’s family dinner night at my parents house. It’s just the way it is — nap, dinner. That’s my jam.
So, I was put in charge of making a loaf of bread to accompany chili for Sunday dinner. However, bread can take forever and would definitely interrupt my snoozy indulgence. So, I give you “Fairly Quick Italian Bread.” Nap on!
Fairly Quick Italian Bread
2 to 3 cups bread flour
1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)*
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
*Please remember, yeast is a delicate creature. It likes warm water, but you’ll kill it if you burn it. So, be kind to it and don’t make the water any hotter than you’d stick your own self in!
Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (while whining the whole time that you really want the Professional KitchenAid because it has the “pigtail hook” instead of the annoying “C hook”.. ahem, anyway…) On slow speed, combine dry ingredients and start to stream in water. Your dough will start looking rough and shaggy. While still on low, add the olive oil.
Now, this is where humidity and precise measurements and all that comes into play when making bread things. Your dough might look like the picture above, all rough and not sticking together. Or it might have become smooth already. Only you will know! If it looks like it doesn’t want to play nice, add more water smidge by smidge until it pulls together in a nice smooth cohesive ball. Did I mention smidge? Otherwise it will be too wet and you’ll have to add more flour… see where this is going?
Increase speed to medium, and beat 5 minutes. Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch dough down, and let stand 10 minutes.
Form dough into a loaf (or some interpretation thereof, it’s not my strong suit) and put a few slashes in the top to release steam. Plop it on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.