When a restaurant serves that hot and delicious rustic Italian bread to the table with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, I am in a very happy place. I've scoured the internet for ways to make it without the extra rising periods. Although the recipes that take more time will yield an amazing result (and are quite worth the wait), sometimes you just want some gorgeous Italian bread to happen before dinner on a Sunday afternoon and maybe you didn't plan ahead that far. No worries, here's a great one that you'll love to make and share.
3/4 cup of warm water (very warm to the touch or 110 degrees)
1 packet of active dry yeast ( about 7 grams)
1 teaspoon of sugar
Let bloom in a measuring cup for about 5 minutes. It should be very foamy if your yeast is usable.
Add another 3/4 cup of very warm water to a stand mixer with the bread hook attachment fitted. If you don't have one, just use a mixing bowl and your hands. :)
Add in 1 tablespoon of salt
1/4 cup of really good olive oil. Or a few glugs
Measure 3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour or bread flour in a bowl.
Pour in the yeast and sugar. Turn on the mixer and start adding your flour in 1 scoop at a time. Let each addition incorporate before you add the next. This will gently develop the gluten and give you a more tender crumb.
After the last addition of flour, let the mixer run for about 5 minutes but no more than 8. It is very easy to over-mix dough in a stand mixer. It should be smooth and sticky. So much so, that you'll have to scrape it out with your hands when you transfer it to your counter.
Line a sheet pan with parchment and shape your dough into a smooth rectangle shape. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with baking spray and cover the dough. Let it rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
After the dough has finished rising, it should be about doubled in size. You can score lines with a lame. I highly recommend a good brush of egg-wash here for color. I use one whole egg and 2-3 tablespoons of water. Brush it generously and sprinkle sea salt on top.
Bake for about 25 minutes until you have a deep, golden color. I go by the feel of bread as well; if you can tap it with your hand and hear a hollow sound, your bread is probably perfect. Let it cool before you slice it, otherwise it won't finish carry-over baking and the texture will be gummy. Enjoy!!