I've recently started messing around with baking bread. So far this is nothing serious. No need to call in Intervention or even to bar me from the baking aisle at the local groceries. Right now it is just a curiosity. Just a passing acquaintance, a diversion. Where this affair goes is anyone's guess.
It began, as most of these things do, with a thumb through a cookbook. There in David Tanis' excellent The Heart of the Artichoke was a recipe for An Honest Loaf. The recipe looked simple enough and I had a packet of yeast left over from last time we made pizzas. So gave it the ye old college try. After a day of the dough, yeast, and water working its magic, what emerged from the oven was one of the single best pieces of bread I've ever eaten.
Next step was a focaccia, which was even easier. It basically looks like this. You combine a half cup of water with a tablespoon of dry yeast and three tablespoons of all purpose flour. Let it bubble for a few moments. Then 3 cups of flour, another cup of water, some salt, and olive oil. Stir. Then briefly knead. Cover with plastic wrap and park in fridge over night.
Next day form it into a sheet pan, let it rise at room temp for about an hour, and then bake at around 400 degrees for a half hour. I topped this one with rosemary and some olives, but you can use just about whatever you have lying around. I even used whole wheat in the dough, which is crazy because why the hell did I have a sack of whole wheat flour in the house? The result was a chewy bread that was perfect on its own or as a dip holder.
There is another batch brewing in the fridge right now. This time I'm thinking of some roasted garlic and confited tomatoes with some pickled Italian chilis. Or maybe just a few shavings of pecorino and lemon zest. Or bacon, anchovies, and caramelized onions...