1 ½ tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, 110-115F
2 tsp white sugar
2 tsp fine salt
2 Tbsp Spirits & Spice Italian Herb Medley Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus some for brushing on top before serving)
2 ½ cups bread flour
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top
Spirits & Spice Aceto Balsamico Vintage for serving
clean water in spray bottle
In a large bowl, Sprinkle yeast into 1 cup warm water. Mix in the sugar and salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes or until it foams. Add in olive oil. Add flour and knead (by hand or stand mixer) for about 10 minutes. Add black pepper and oregano. Knead another 5 minutes. The dough should come together well at this point; slightly sticky is fine. Place dough ball in a well oiled bowl, turning the dough a few times so that dough surfaces are protected by oil. Tightly cover the bowl with cling wrap. Place in a warm, draft-free area to rise until dough is doubled, approx. 1 hour, depending on room temp (if your room is cooler, it could take 2 hours.)
After the dough is doubled, punch it down and shape into a rounded loaf. Using a sharp knife, make a criss-cross design on top. Place the rounded loaf on a greased baking sheet. Cover up the loaf with a large mixing bowl inverted over it. Make sure the bowl is large enough that it gives your loaf room to rise. Let rise until doubled again, approx 1 hour.
After the dough has doubled again, gently brush with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, spraying loaf with water once during the middle of baking. Bump oven up to 425F and spray the loaf with water again. Watch carefully – bake just until top is a nice golden brown, taking care not to over bake.
Serve bread fresh and warm, with your favorite blend of any Spirits & Spice Traditional Extra Virgin Olive Oil, freshly ground black pepper, and Aceto Balsamico Vintage.