A savoury aroma drifts through the house. You break through a crisp, flaky crust, to discover the freshest of bread, airy and light, baked to perfection in your own oven. Specks of oregano peak through the steam, only to be drowned with butter. In that moment you realise what you’ve achieved, and a sense of accomplishment encompasses you as you take your first bite. Moments pass and you look down to find an empty plate. You’re distraught with anger, disappointed with yourself for only making one loaf, but then a sense of calm and utter satisfaction returns as you glance at the recipe card covered in flour on your counter. You can make this again, you tell yourself. You can make this whenever you want.
How’s that for setting the scene?
I’m pretty sure that’s the reaction you’ll have when you make homemade bread for the first time, because this up here is pretty much a scene from my kitchen not too long ago. The simplicity of it just surprises you and makes you realise that you can have bread at home without having an ingredient list that sounds like a chemistry experiment from high school. It’s super simple, and also the same recipe as my pizza dough, but with just one addition, which I think made a huge difference.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 t dry active yeast
1 t sugar or honey
1 t salt
1/4 t dried oregano *optional
2 1/2 – 4 cups of flour
1/2 cup cornmeal plus additional for dusting
The process is the same as well. In a medium sized bowl add the yeast and sugar/honey to the warm water and let it foam up for a few minutes. Then break in the egg and mix. Add the oregano(btw you can use any dried herb, basil being one i’m going try next) and salt, and then add the cornmeal. Now it’s just a matter of adding the flour, 1/2 cup at a time till the dough comes together. Then turn it over onto your counter, making sure it’s sprinkled with some more cornmeal, and knead it until it forms a ball. Then just drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of the bowl, place the dough in, drizzle some more olive oil on top, and cover and let it rise for at least an hour.
Once the dough has risen preheat your oven to 400F. You can make one big free form loaf, but I made 4 small ones. I divided the dough into 4 portions, kneaded them for just a minute then placed them on cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and cut a few lined into the tops with a sharp knife. I sprinkled over some olive oil and parmesan cheese on top but you can just stick to olive oil. I also put some cheese and sliced green bell peppers on two of the loaves, but that’s up to you as well.
Once you’ve transferred the loaves to the cookie sheet let them sit for about 10-15 minutes before putting them in the oven. Bake them for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Once you take them out of the oven let them rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting them! Enjoy as a side, or simply replace store bought bread with this!
If you plan on baking this recipe into one large loaf in a loaf pan, the baking time will, of course, vary. I would say check the bread after 30 minutes to see how much longer it needs to bake.