When I have guests over for dinner, chances are I will cook a 4-course Italian dinner for them (antipasto, primo, secondo, dolce). With such a dinner I always bake this bread. Freshly baked bread is a treat that will impress your guests. It is not a lot of work if you have a stand mixer. Allow about 4 hours from start to ready to slice, but most of that is inactive time. Bread is also great for fare la scarpetta, cleaning every last drop of sauce from your plate with bread. This bread has a great crust and neutral flavor that doesn’t overpower the food. This is the reason why I do not generally bake bread stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, or the like, because then the bread would play the lead rather than a supporting role.
I posted about this bread before, but that was when I didn’t have a stand mixer yet and was using my bread maker to make the dough. The use of olive oil and part semolina flour makes this bread ‘Italian’. I use Turkish semolina flour that is more coarsely ground than the Italian semola di grano duro rimacinata, but only about half the price and easily available from Turkish supermarkets (that are all around the Netherlands).
Recipe can be scaled to your liking
250 grams (1 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp) all-purpose flour or bread flour
250 grams (1 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp) semolina flour (semola di grano duro)
300 ml (1 1/4 cup) lukewarm water
20 grams (.7 oz) fresh yeast, or 7 grams (2 1/2 tsp) dried yeast
60 ml (4 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
10 grams (2 tsp) salt
12 grams (3 tsp) sugar
flour for sprinkling
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in volume, about an hour. A great place for this is a cold oven with just the light turned on.