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Mr T reminded me that it’s all very well going on about my fabulous dough discovery but there’s not much point unless I eventually share the secret, so – in good time for summer – here’s a wonderful recipe for:

Olive Oil Dough

(my respectful adaptation of a recipe in
 Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François)
 

  • 650 ml lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dried yeast (or 50g fresh – I buy mine from Carrefour in France, then freeze)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sel gris de Guérande (my favourite, but any coarse salt will do)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1600 ml unbleached all-purpose flour (I don’t know how much this weighs – will get back to you!)
    1. Pour the water into a lidded (not airtight) food container and sprinkle on the yeast, salt, sugar and olive oil.  Give it a swirl to mix.
    2. Add the flour, stir it in with a wooden spoon until it becomes a fairly homogenous mass with no dry bits.
    3. Cover (but do not seal) with the lid and leave it at room temperature approximately 2 hours (until the dough has risen and collapsed).
    4. Either: use immediately, or
    5. refrigerate in its container, leaving the lid slightly ajar to allow air circulation, and use over the next 12 days.

    When you wish to bake your bread (this dough is designed for flatbreads [eg focaccia, fougasse, pizza etc.] so don’t expect a high-rise sandwich loaf):

    • oil a medium-sized baking tray or swiss roll tin with olive oil (don’t waste pricey extra virgin here!)
    • with wet or olive-oily hands to stop the dough from sticking, scoop out a handful weighing approximately 500g (but don’t get out your scales unless you enjoy making a mess)
    • form into a ball and then, as the pizza guys do, use its own weight to gently stretch without tearing: when it is too thin to take the strain without holing place it in the centre of your oiled tray and gently ease it towards the sides and corners.  It will relax and expand over the next little while.
    • start heating oven to 200C (or as high as it will go if making pizza)

    Then what you do with it really depends on what you’re after – dimple with your fingers, strew with chopped rosemary and salt then “drizzle” (yikes – did I really say that?) with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil for classic focaccia; make it into a circle and apply pizza toppings, or for something really exciting, check out the method for a Spanish flavoured fougasse in my chorizo & olive bread post.

    Finally, bake your bread for about 20 minutes; because of the oil content you will get a crispy rather than crusty-crunchy crust, and light golden browning.  If you wait until it resembles a loaf it will be overdone, and for pizza keep the dough thin; it will need 10-15 minutes or less cooking time.  Serve warm or cool; today or tomorrow if it lasts that long.

    I was so impressed with this American pair’s basic recipe for artisan bread featured in The Mercury News that I ordered their book via Amazon.co.uk and I’m so glad I did – it’s packed with extra information and lots of recipes for a number of different doughs and their permutations.  In the short time since I acquired it I have been inspired repeatedly – this book is a keeper.

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