This magnificent bread is like a savory brioche. Its deep olive oil flavour comes out in the soft interior and the beautifully golden crust. You don’t need to be an expert baker to make this bread and the results are seriously impressive. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread to bring a sense of happiness and comfort to people and to your home.
- 6½ cups unbleached flour
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- Olive oil for baking pan
- Sesame seeds (white and/or black)
Combine yeast, sugar, and ½ cup of room temperature water in a bowl. Whisk lightly. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast has proofed. It will have a beer like smell and a froth will form atop your mixture.
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Mix well. Add in the olive oil, the remaining 2½ cups of water, and the proofed water, sugar, and yeast mixture.
Mix until well combined. Tip onto the counter and kneed for 5 minutes. To kneed, gather the dough into a ball and using the heal of your palm, push forward, push back, then forward. This step is crucial since it activates the gluten in the flour which will create the lovely texture of the bread. Divide the dough in two.
You now have choices! You can make 12 rolls, 2 large loaves, or 6 rolls and 1 loaf.
To make the loaf, generously oil an 8 inch pan and place half the dough into it. Cover with cling wrap. To make the rolls, divide the dough into 12 or 6 equal pieces, then place on a lined baking sheet and cover with cling film. No matter what shape you choose, place your dough in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour. Once the dough has rise, it will double in size and sink down.
For the loaf, punch the dough down and reform once more into a flattened ball. Drizzle with more olive oil. Cover with cling film, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise once more, for around 30 minutes.
For the rolls (which should have sunk into flat circles), place two teaspoons of sesame seeds in the center, then place one side of the rolls over the other and squish into a ball, making sure to flatten the dough and roll back into a ball. With your thumb, poke a hole into the top and add another teaspoon of sesame seeds. Cover with cling film, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise once more for around 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 400° then bake your bread for 35 minutes no matter if you’ve made rolls, round bread, or both.
Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan and slicing.