This is one of my favorite breads of all time!
Believe it or not, it's easy to make.
1 1/4 cups water
1 tsp of granulated sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast (if you have the yeast in a jar the equivalent to the packet is 2 1/4 tsp.)
4 cups of all purpose flour (set aside 3/4 cup for kneading)
2 tsp kosher or coarse salt (additionally, you'll want to sprinkle some of the salt over the top of the bread as well, so keep the container handy)
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 to 3/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp of minced garlic
The very first thing you want to do is activate the yeast.
I use a glass ramekin or small glass with approximately a 1/4 cup of the water and pop it into the microwave for around 35 seconds. It is important that the water temperature is lukewarm (if you use a clay or ceramic ramekin the heat will be continuous for longer and heat faster) Once the water is heated add the yeast and the tsp of granulated sugar and stir until the yeast is dissolved. The yeast requires about 10 to 15 minutes, so while you are waiting, get started on the next part of the process of creating the dough.
Coat a large bowl (my preference is glass) with about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil (this is your proofing bowl), and set the bowl aside.
In a second bowl (once again, my preference is glass) add 3 cups of the flour and salt together and mix together. In the center of the flour create a little well and add approximately 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the yeast mixture. With a large spatula begin folding the mixture together into a dough ball. Sprinkle flour over a flat counter are and pull the dough ball into the center of the floured surface and begin kneading it until the dough become nice and elastic (this should take around 5-7 minutes). Grab the ball of dough and place it into the bowl that was coated and set aside. Cover the bowl (I use plastic wrap because this particular dough tends to be a bit sticky). Let the dough stand for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees:
Find a nice 9"x13" flattish baking sheet pan. Coat the pan with a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil and grab the bowl of proofed dough and push two fingers into the center to deflate the dough lightly. Pour the dough into the center of your baking pan and begin to push and stretch the dough out from the center to the edge of your baking sheet. The bread is meant to have finger indentations all over it once you finish the stretching process.
Add your toppings:
Other variations that could be added would be black or kalamata olives (if you choose kalamata's be sure to reduce the salt you add to the top).
The first thing you want to do is brush the top of the dough with a light coating of your remaining olive oil (this is what makes the nice crusty yet soft top). Then begin adding the toppings in layers - add the minced garlic over the top as evenly as you can. Then add the slices of the sun dried tomatoes. Then pull the leaves from the sprigs of rosemary and sprinkle them evenly over the top. Finally, take your coarse salt and sprinkle it however generously you like. Voila! you can place it directly into the heated oven.
Bake about 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
This bread tastes incredible! Use it for sandwiches, or as a side to most any soup dish. DELICIOUS!!!!
Until next time my friends...