Don’t you just love the artisan breads available now? My favorites are black olive ciabatta and breads made with cheese and herbs. You can turn any basic pizza dough into a crusty loaf with herbs, olives, roasted cherry tomatoes, and cheese. This recipe is basic pizza dough with herbs and it makes a terrific roll for muffalatta, sliced and toasted for bruschetta, and other inspired sandwiches.
Thank heavens for food processors, they are a gift from the culinary gods for making fast work out of labor intensive chores, like kneading bread. This is a quick and no-knead recipe for the food processor so you’ll need a processor with a large bowl and a large bowl or pot to cover the dough while it proofs. All-purpose flour is fine all by its self, or you can add some whole wheat flour to kick-up the protein value. It’s so warm in Las Vegas that any yeast bread dough will rise in 40 minutes anywhere I leave it. Just be sure to proof your dough somewhere warm and test for proofing after 40-45 minutes. Leave it longer if need be.
Here’s an old trick I learned from Pierre Franey for making crusty breads: throw a few ice-cubes onto the floor of the oven just as you start baking. As the ice-cubes melt they will humidify the oven. Also, if you want a shiny crust, egg wash the loaf before baking.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 1 Tbsp for bench flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp fresh coarsely ground black pepper (about 6 grinds)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 pkg. rapid-rise yeast
- 1 cup water (if weather is dry, you may need to add more water a Tbsp at a time)
- Place all ingredients into bowl of processor in the order given.
- Pulse until just combined then increase speed to maximum until dough comes together in a ball. Don’t worry about scraping down the sides, as the dough comes together and spins around the bowl it will clean the bowl of any ingredients clinging to the sides.
- Dust your counter with a little flour and knead dough 2 or 3 times to form a ball.
- Place a large bowl or pot over the dough and let proof for 40-45 minutes. Press a finger into the dough. Dough will not spring back if it has finished proofing.
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Punch down dough and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Shape into a loaf. Place dough on prepared baking sheet.
- When oven reaches temperature, place baking sheet on middle rack of oven. Dough will finish rising while baking.
- Throw 3 or 4 ice-cubes onto floor of oven.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until top is golden brown and bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
- Remove from baking sheet to cooling rack.