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The Best of Winter Breads: Italian Olive Oil Bread

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You've heard the expression "killing two birds with one stone?" While I don't agree with killing birds, you can take this expression and apply to the kitchen. You can heat your home (or at least the kitchen) while making an incredible artisan bread. It's winter and freshly baked breads should be a part of your life!

This bread, originating from Italy, is truly one of my favorites to serve with some homemade soup. An incredible internal texture and a fanstastic crust are just two of the elements which make this bread one of the world's finest. Easy to prepare (albeit different than most breads) and takes less time than most European breads, Italian Olive Oil Bread will end up being a staple of your bread baking repertoire.

Ingredients needed to make Italian Olive Oil Bread (makes 2 round loaves):

  • 2 tsp. yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • ¼ tsp. sugar
  • 4 ¾ cup flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the yeast, ¼ cup of warm water and the sugar. Set the bowl aside 5 minutes for the yeast to proof (foam).
  2. Into the proofed yeast stir 2 cups of flour and ¾ cup of the warm water to form a soft dough. Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead ten minutes.
  3. Place the dough back into the bowl and add the remaining flour, warm water, salt and olive oil. Knead inside the bowl (this will get messy) until the dough comes together. Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead 10 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a round loaf.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Place each round loaf on a pan and let rise 1 hour.
  7. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  8. With a very sharp knife, slash a cross atop each loaf.
  9. Place in oven and bake 45 minutes or until done.
  10. Remove the bread and let cool on a rack.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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