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Parmesan Herbed Olive Oil Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Once you’ve mastered the basics, experiment by adding your personal favorite touches to the dough batch with spices and seasonings, chopped herbs, vegetables, cheeses, and more. This bread flavored with a French seasoning blend that typically includes Provençal herbs is a perfect partner for spring soups and simple sandwiches.

Ingredients

  • 2¼ cups lukewarm water
  • 1½ Tbsp yeast
  • 1½ Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp dried Herbes de Provence (or dried herbs of your choice)
  • 6½ cups unbleached all-purpose flower

Instructions

  1. Mix yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) food container.
  2. Mix in Parmesan cheese, Herbes de Provence, and flour with minimal kneading using a spoon, a 14-cup capacity food processor with dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook.
  3. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses or flattens on top, about 2 hours. Dough can be used immediately or refrigerated (which may make it easier to handle for beginners). Refrigerate in a lidded, but not airtight, container.
  4. To bake, prepare a pizza peel (or back of a baking sheet, in a pinch) by sprinkling it with cornmeal, to facilitate easy removal of loaf to oven.
  5. Sprinkle the surface of prepared dough with a small amount of all-purpose flour. Using a bread knife, cut off a one-pound quantity of dough, about the size of a large grapefruit, for each loaf. Smooth hands with small amount of flour. Without kneading it, quickly shape dough into a rounded loaf, smoothing over the top and gently stretching the surface of the dough to the bottom, rotating a quarter turn, and smoothing again until loaf is formed.
  6. Rest rounded loaf on cornmeal-dusted pizza peel for 40 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 450° F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Below, rest a broiler tray or high-side baking pan for holding water for steam during baking.
  8. After 40 minutes’ rest, liberally dust loaf with flour. Using a serrated edge, slash loaves with a cross, scallop, or hash mark pattern. With a quick forward-back motion of the forearm, slide bread from peel onto baking stone. Quickly, add a cup of water to waiting pan, and close oven door.
  9. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf, when thumped, sounds hollow. Remove from oven and allow to cool and rest on a baking rack for best flavor and texture. Slice with a serrated bread knife when cooled. Note: To retain a crisp exterior crust, avoid storing your loaf in a plastic bag. Opt instead for placing cut side down on a plate or bread board.

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