- 2 1/4 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant or active dry yeast
- 3/4 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 1/2 - 6 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
- In a bowl, combine the water, sugar and yeast. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture bubble and foam before proceeding (3-5 minutes). If using instant yeast, proceed with the recipe (no need to activate the yeast).
- Add the salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and mix. Add in the remaining flour gradually. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and form a soft ball that doesn't leave a lot of dough residue on your fingers. Knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough is smooth. If the dough starts to cling to the sides of the bowl, add 1/4 cup of flour at a time until a sturdy but soft ball forms.
- Lightly grease the bowl and let dough rise covered with a towel or lightly greased plastic wrap until doubled. About an hour, depending on the warmth of your kitchen.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly greased surface and divide in half. pat each section into a thick rectangle (appox 9x13 inches). Roll the dough from the long edge, pressing out any air bubbles with the heel of your hand, and pinch the edges to seal. Arrange seam down on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I prefer separate pans for each loaf)
- At this point you can cut several gashes in the top of the bread or wait till it has risen. *Note that if you do not have a very sharp razor or knife you should do this now to avoid the risk of deflating the risen dough. (This is just for aesthetics. I often skip this step.)
- Cover with a towel and let the loaves rise until nearly doubled in size, about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 375°F and make rack in the center position. If you haven't already, with a very sharp knife cut gashes at an angle on the top of each loaf. (Again this is just for aesthetics, it's not necessary.)
- Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden and baked through. Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Let cool before slicing.