Although not quite as light as what they serve at the Olive Pit, this loaf is just as delicious and the seasoned Olive oil comes relatively close to theirs as well...except I add garlic and salt when I serve it. Now, alot of reviews on making Artisan breads will tell you that it's the "easiest" bread to make........in my experience, yes and no. This bread has very few ingredients and little hands-on time but there is an art to it I have found after making 10 loaves! Especially if using all white flour as shown in the photos here. I know what works for me and will try to explain, but if it doesn't for you, I encourage you to keep experimenting, cause once you've "got it", it is simple :) and worth it! Oh, and my advise would be to fully read the whole recipe before making...at least each step's notes as you make it. With that said.....
Rustic Crusty Bread
resting time: 12 1\2-18 1\2 hrs
baking time: 40-45 minutes
yield: 1 large loaf
3 c. bread flour
(for healthier version, substitute 1 - 1 1\2 c. bread flour
with fine whole wheat flour and increase lecithin to 2 t.)
1 1\2 t. lecithin granules
1 1\2 t. sea salt
1\2 t. yeast
1 1\2 c. warm water
You'll also need a 5 qt Cast Iron Pot with lid
Measure all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, whisking till thoroughly combined. Pour warm water over ingredients and gently fold together, scraping sides until all flour has been absorbed (mixture will be sticky) then cover with plastic wrap and allow to set at room temp. for 12-18 hours. Note: the longer it sets the better the flavor.
-dough after resting is very gooey and bubbly-
After dough has set, heavily sprinkle 2 sections of your counter top with bread flour and scrape out dough onto one. Sprinkle the top of the dough with additional flour, then with oiled or floured hands fold dough over itself 3-5 times, adding more flour as needed, until a ball-shape is formed. Transfer to the 2nd floured section, sprinkle again with flour and loosely cover with the previously used plastic wrap. Allow to rest 30 minutes. Note: it does not have to be a perfect shape...especially if you are using all white bread flour, the dough will probably frustratingly sticky, so just fold a few times and quit :) You don't want to over work the dough. Also, for a more authentic look to your finished bread, place the dough seem-side UP to rest, that will give it more character once baked.
Meanwhile, set the cast iron pot with lid into oven and preheat to 450*. Allow pot to heat for about 30 minutes.
Once dough is ready to go into the oven, bring out pot and oil hands. VERY carefully (pot is HOT) pick up dough and place into pot. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. Note: Dough will probably loose its shape a little so don't freak! Some recommend gently shaking the pot to even out dough...but I don't, just take a metal spatula and ease any un-preferred bulges back into shape :)
After baking the 30 minutes, remove lid and continue baking 10-15 minutes until a beautiful dark golden brown.
When done, remove bread from pot to cool on wire wrack for about an hour before slicing. To serve, I like to slice it into 1 1\4 inch thick slices then again into pieces for dipping into Seasoned Olive Oil, recipe below.
It's also good dipped into different flavored whipped butter, recipe coming soon! To store leftovers, I guess you can experiment, Most people store them in paper bags but being as mine was already sliced I didn't want the soft inside to go stale so I just put mine into a regular bread bag. Although the crust did soften some, it was still really good the next day...see what I did with it...
Oh.My.Word.GOOD! Am SO serving this one of the next times we have friends over for the evening! A toasted smoked turkey\Jack cheese sandwich...buttered and sprinkled with the Seasoning for the olive oil dip before toasting. Really...BEST toasted sandwich I ever made!
Seasoning Blend for Olive Oil Dip
2 T. dried Oregano
2 T. dried Basil
2 T. dried Parsley
4 t. dried Marjoram
4 t. dried rosemary
4 t. dried thyme
2 t. red pepper flakes
Blend all ingredients together thoroughly. To serve, in a small flat plate, pour desired amount of olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning blend. I then like to sprinkle lightly with garlic powder and sea salt. Serve with Rustic Crusty Bread.