I have a confession to make. My parents didn’t cook much growing up. We grew up on take out. I used to be AWFUL in the kitchen. One time I baked cookies for a boyfriend in high school and he unfortunately shared them with his entire math class. The teacher was horrified while everyone else had to spit them out. The boyfriend told me later that day we would hire a professional chef if we ever got married. (In case you are wondering, we didn’t get married and TDH and I do not have a personal chef.)
I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to be afraid of baking your own bread. I had no idea what I was doing the first few times. I tend to stick to focaccia bread because you don’t need to knead it or use a special machine. The trickiest part is getting the dough consistency right. It should be slightly sticky and damp but not so sticky it clings to your hands. In order to help you master fresh bread I will answer your dough questions via twitter. Send pictures, questions or new ideas to @marissaborelli.
Now, for the recipe. My aunt’s father-in-law passed down this recipe to her and I’ve tweaked it over the years. Here’s the latest version, incorporating super protein quinoa, brimming with fresh herbs from the backyard and flaked with crushed red pepper. I didn’t mince the herbs much this time around. We’ve been watching Jamie Oliver’s cooking show lately and in honor of one of his favorite sayings, “not mucking about” I threw whole thyme sprigs in the dough.
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 package yeast
pinch of sugar
3/4 c quinoa flour
2 ¼ c whole wheat pastry flour
3 c unbleached white flour
2-3 tsp salt
4 sprigs rosemary
small handful of fresh thyme
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 ¼ c water (add a little more if using whole wheat flour)
first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)
1. Whisk together yeast, water and sugar. Let yeast expand for 10 minutes.
2. Mix flours, herbs and spices. Add water slowly and combine with a mixer, spatula or your hands. Dough should be slightly sticky. If it sticks to your hands too much add more flour, if it is cracking add more water.
3. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a bowl three times the size of your dough ball. Place dough in bowl and cover with a damp washcloth, secure with a rubberband.
4. Let rise until double – 1-6 hours (the bakers in Italy let it rise all morning or overnight but one hour is sufficient in a pinch).
5. Preheat oven to 425* F
5. Prepare a large cookie sheet or two 9×13 pans with good olive oil and sea salt on bottom and sides to prevent sticking.
6. Stretch dough out on prepared pan or cookie sheet. Punch holes with thumbs in dough, drizzle with olive oil and dust with Maldon salt.
7. Bake 12-15 minutes.