It’s a cozy weekend. Maybe it’s laundry day or spring cleaning season, but you have time. Time to make magic with flour and yeast. Fresh scratch-made bread is one of those baking feats that brings a sense of pride.
In just 4-hours, simple pantry staples become three hearty and crusty loaves. Pulled out of the oven piping hot and just begging to soak up glossy lemon/garlic oil with briny olives. That funky feta with a bit of scrunched up prosciutto, it’s heavenly.
Just add wine.
I spent Saturday spring cleaning the house, top to bottom. Each room was scrubbed, swept, vacuumed, dusted…I did it all. The fresh breeze whisked the curtains back and forth while the birds chirped happily outside. As I danced around to music, just mopping away, the baguette dough rose to new heights.
About every hour I fiddled with the dough for a minute or two. Fold it like a tee shirt, roll it into loaves, cover with a towel, preheat the oven. You know, baking stuff. But the 4 hours spent cleaning was the perfect time to make bread. The yeast, heat and moisture does all the heavy lifting.
You’re role is minor during this 4 hour process. I promise.
While the bread is baking for 20 minutes (do not open that oven!) you can throw together the Marinated Olives & Feta. This is a 10-minute app that delivers a big punch of briny flavor.
Smash the olives and garlic with the flat of your knife. Peel the skin of a lemon and crumble up some fresh feta with your bare hands. This dip can marinate from 10 minutes to an hour before serving.
Serve the piping hot crusty bread torn into hunks alongside the marinated olives and cured meats. It’s the perfect lazy unplanned Saturday fete.
Don’t forget the wine…I was disappointed that I forgot to photograph the munchies with my tall glass of vino. I was too busy sipping and snapping.
Makes 3 baguettes
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115° F
- 1 teaspoon (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups (14 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1-2 teaspoons (3/8 ounces) kosher salt (depends on the grain size)
- Canola oil, for greasing bowl
- 1/2 cup ice cubes
Marinated Olives and Feta
4 ounces drained Castelvetrano, Cerignola, or other unpitted green olives
3 garlic cloves
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 ounces feta
- Crusty baguette bread (for serving)
- Start with the bread: Whisk together water and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and mix in stand mixer (on low) until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes.
- Add salt, then knead dough on medium in stand mixer until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes (you can do this by hand too). Make dough into a ball and transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, covered with a damp towel, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into a rectangle. Fold the sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with a damp towel again, and return to a cold oven/microwave. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Remove bowl with dough from cold oven, and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or rectangle baking sheet on it.
- Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet; place dough ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats (see picture below); place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover with a damp towel; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
- Uncover; remove towel rolls, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame, or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the HOT baking stone or pan.
- Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms).
- Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.
- While it bakes, make the marinated olives:
- Lightly smash olives with the heel of your hand just to break apart skin and flatten slightly.
- Smash 3 garlic cloves and peel.
- Using a vegetable peeler, remove peel from 1 lemon in long wide strips.
- Cook lemon peel, olives, garlic, ½ cup oil, and ½ tsp. red pepper in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling occasionally, until garlic is sizzling and golden around the edges, 5–7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, crumble feta into a shallow serving bowl.
- Pour oil mixture over feta. Let sit at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour
Serve crusty bread with marinated olives & feta along with cured meats and a guzzle of wine.