The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread
Discover a new dough-kneading technique that serves as the cornerstone for these mouth-watering recipes.
Coarse Salt & Rosemary Focaccia
This is an easy, popular bread to make and results in a generous slab that everyone can share.
- 1 batch olive dough, rested for 1 hour
- 4 Tbs. olive oil, plus a little extran a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Good-quality coarse salt, such as kosher salt
Quantity: 1 large slab
Preparation: 20 minutes
Resting: 2¼ hours
2nd rising: 45 minutes
Baking: 25–30 minutes
With the help of the rounded end of a dough scraper, turn the dough out onto an oiled tray. Drizzle the oil over the dough, then, using your fingers, push and prod the dough so that it spreads from the center toward the edges of the tray—but try not to stretch or pull it. Cover with a lint-free dishtowel and let it rest somewhere warm and draft-free for 45 minutes.
Prod the dough again, dimpling it with your fingertips, and rest for 30 minutes more. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
Take the leaves off the sprigs of rosemary and push them evenly into the dough. Sprinkle the coarse salt over it and immediately put into the preheated oven. Turn down the heat to 425°f and bake it for 25 to 30 minutes, until it is light golden brown. Remove from the oven and slide onto a wire rack to cool. Brush with a little more olive oil while it’s still hot.
These are tiny pieces of dough, which make unusual little canapés to pass around with drinks.
- White dough, rested for 1 hour
- Flour for dusting
- A little olive oil for greasing, plus extra-virgin olive oil for finishing
Selection of 2 or more fillings:
- Tomato paste: mix some finely chopped herbs into some good-quality tomato paste
- Olive paste
- Cheese: choose a strong-flavored, mature hard cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
- Walnut halves
- Good-quality, whole, pitted olives
Quantity: about 30 bread shots
Preparation: 20 minutes
Resting: 1¼ hours
2nd resting: 45 minutes
Baking: 8–10 minutes
With the help of the rounded end of a plastic dough scraper, turn the rested dough out onto a clean counter and, with the flat edge, divide it first into five 6-ounce pieces, roll each piece into a log, cut each log in half, then cut each half into three, to make 30 pieces. Roll each piece into a tight, smooth ball. Place the balls onto a flat-edged baking tray that has been lightly greased with oil (make sure there is space between them or they will touch as they rise) and let them rest for 15 minutes. dip the handle of a wooden spoon or your index finger into the flour and then push it into the center of the first ball. Put a little of your chosen filling into the well you have made. Repeat with the remaining balls. Let the balls rise for 45 minutes on a baking tray, covered with a lint-free dishtowel. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
Put the tray into the preheated oven and mist the inside with a water spray. turn down the heat to 425°F and bake for 8 to 10 minutes until they are light golden brown. Remove and let cool a little, so that they are just warm before serving. Brush with a little olive oil to give a nice sheen and an extra layer of flavor.
Part-baking in advance: Bake the shots for 4 minutes, leave to cool and store in a plastic bag in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, put them back in the oven (again at 425°F) for a few minutes until they color.
Olive, Herb & Romano Sticks
The flavors of these breadsticks are very southern Mediterranean. If you like, you can serve them with a little dish of good extra-virgin olive oil to dip them into.
- ½ batch white dough, rested for 1 hour
- 4 oz. purple olives, such as Kalamata, pits in (¾ cup)
- 2 oz. grated romano cheese, or Parmesan if you prefer (1 cup)
- 1 tsp. herbes de Provence
- Cornmeal for dusting
Quantity: 12 breadsticks
Preparation: 20 minutes
Resting: 1 hour
2nd rising: 30–45 minutes
Baking: 10–12 minutes
Pit the olives and cut each one roughly into three. mix the olives, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.
With the help of the rounded end of a dough scraper, turn the dough out onto the counter, lightly dusted with cornmeal. using your hand, flatten out into a rectangle about ¾-inch thick. Sprinkle the cheese and olive mixture on top and press it into the dough with your fingertips. fold one third of the dough into the center and press down with your fingertips. then fold the opposite side over on top (as if you were folding a letter to put into an envelope). Press with the palms of your hands to work the olives into the dough. With the flat edge of a scraper, cut the dough width-wise into 10 to 12 strips about ½-inch wide. flour the counter with cornmeal. twist each strip and roll them a little on the counter so they stretch to the length of your baking tray (nonstick, or covered with foil so that the cheese in the dough doesn’t stick to the tray) and place the strips on top, leaving a good gap between each one. Cover with a lint-free dishtowel and let rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 475°f.
Put into the preheated oven. mist the inside with a water spray, then bake them for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. use a spatula to lift them from the baking tray. Cool on a wire rack.
Make the Dough
- 1/3 oz. fresh yeast (preferably) or ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (1½ tsp.)
- 18 oz. white bread flour (about 3¾–3 7/8 cups)
- 2 tsp. fine-grain salt
- 13 oz. water
Preheat the oven to 475°F (or as high of a temperature as the oven will go). Rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble. Add salt and water. Hold the bowl with one hand and mix the ingredients around with the other (or use the rounded end of a scraper) for 2–3 minutes until the dough starts to form. Continue, according to the steps below.
18 oz. white bread flour (about 3¾–37/8 cups) n 2 tbs. coarse semolinan ½ oz. fresh yeast (preferably) or ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (1½ tsp.)n 2 tsp. fine-grain saltn 5 tbs. good quality extra-virgin olive oiln 12 oz. water
Mix the bread flour and semolina together and rub in the yeast, using your fingertips as if making a crumble. Add the salt, olive oil and water, then continue, according to the steps below.
Begin to work the dough. Slide your fingers underneath it like a pair of forks, with your thumbs on top, swing it upward and then slap it back down, away from you, onto the counter (it will almost be too sticky to lift at this point). Stretch the front of the dough toward you, then lift it back over itself in an arc (to trap the air), still stretching it forward and sideways and tucking it in around the edges. Keep repeating this sequence.
Keep working the dough until it comes cleanly away from the counter, begins to look silky and feels smooth, firm-but-wobbly and responsive. Continue for 5 minutes.
Flour the counter lightly, place the dough on top and form it into a ball by folding each edge in turn to the center of the dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating the ball as you go. Turn the whole ball over and stretch and tuck the edges under.
Reprinted with permission from Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet © 2016 Kyle Books, and photographs © Jean Cazals. No images may be used, in print or electronically, without written consent from the publisher.