Basic Bread Dough for Focaccia or Loaves Recipe

Basic Bread Dough for Focaccia or Loaves Recipes

Ingredients :

4 cups bread flour

1.5 tsp salt

3 tbsp active dry yeast

1.4 cups lukewarm water (100 degrees maximum)
spray bottle of water

Method :

Put the flour, salt and yeast in an electric mixer that has a dough hook attachment. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the warm water. When the dough forms a ball, turn up the speed to medium to knead for 7 minutes. The dough is completely kneaded if you press your finger into it and it bounces back. Put the dough into a large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Keep in a warm - but not hot - spot in the kitchen until it doubles in volume. Punch the dough down, cover again with plastic, and let rise a second time. At this point the dough is ready to be used in various recipes. Directions follow for focaccia or a simple loaf.

For focaccia: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the dough on a cookie sheet with sides or a jelly roll pan. A pizza pan or baking tile can also be used. Press the dough out to the corners of the pan. If it resists, don't worry. The dough must rise again and then it will fill the pan. After it has doubled and covers the whole pan, press your fingers into the surface to give it its traditional indentations. The dough is now ready for a choice of toppings such as tomato sauce or dried or fresh herbs (rosemary is a favorite) and coarse grain salt. Put the pan in the oven, lightly spray the top with water, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until it is lightly brown on the bottom. Slip out immediately and cool in a rack.

For Bread Loaf: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Put the dough in a 12 x 17 inch bread loaf pan, and let it rise until it is doubled. Slash the top of the bread in three places with a knife and, if you wish, sprinkle with flour. Put in the oven and spray the oven with water to help form a good crust. After 10 minutes, reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and spray the oven once again. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes. to check for doneness, turn the bread out of the pan and tap on the bottom. If it sounds hollow, it is ready to come out of the oven. Cool on a rack.

Note: Alternatively, before the final rising you can halve the dough and form two cylinders to yield two baguettes after allowing the dough to double in the rising. Bake as above.

Makes 1 loaf (30 slices)

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