I do not fare well in cold weather. As soon as the weather drops to the mid-60s, I reach for my fleece, plug in the space heater beneath my desk, and brew and sip (or slug) tea from morning to night.
So when the temperature plummeted to the 20s this past Saturday, I was hoping to curl up in a ball with Nick, a blanket, and a pile of story books for most of the day. Nick had other plans. He cuddled until 9, but was running around like a madman by 10, so I gave Eralda a call to see if she and Jack (her son, and Nick's buddy; they are two months apart in age) wanted to go for a bike ride in the arboretum on campus. Hooray, she said yes!
The boys love the trails at the arboretum, which are mostly flat, perfect for budding bike riders, and there is plenty of flora along the way to hold every one's interest. But the cold, wet, windy grey proved too much for all of us; we reloaded the bikes and headed for the warmth of the library, following which Nick and I headed home for a long nap (for him) and bread-baking (for me).
I was still chilled from the outdoor romp, so the prospect of a warm oven and freshly-baked bread was tantalizing to my wimpy winter soul. No fancy focaccia or challah braids this time around; I turned to one of my favorite, pane all'olio.
It's such an easy bread to make; even more so if yo have stand mixer with a dough hook. It has a good crust--crust, but not tough, thanks to the olive oil--and jut the right amount of toothsome-ness to adapt to morning toast (with plenty of preserves, marmalade or nutella, lunctime panini, or dinner dipping (we had soup).
I've taken to substituting a little bit more than half of the bread flour with white whole wheat flour; you still need some of the bread flour (for gluten's sake). If you're feeling frugal, you can always use canola or other vegetable oil in place of the olive oil, but do splurge if you can; you really can detect fruity notes of the olive oil in each slice. Guaranteed, it will warm you through and through.
Whole Wheat Pane All'Olio (Olive Oil Bread)
I am not sure where I acquired the original recipe for this bread, but I think it was clipped from the San Francisco Chronicle food section back, circa 1996 or so (I've been making it that long). The pinch of sugar is my addition (to assist the bloom of the yeast), as is the whole wheat addition, and the preparation notes. It really is wonderful, and makes two generous loaves.
I've developed a trick for baing bread sans oven stone: let the shaped bread rise on parchment paper, then transfer (paper and all) to a hot baking sheet (let the latter heat while preheting the oven). This produces a perfect bottom to the loaves!
2-1/4 cups warm water
1/4 tsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp dry yeast
2-1/2 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
2-1/4 cups bread flour (I used King Arthur Organic, but any variety is fine)
2-1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
Combine the warm water and sugar in a large bowl; sprinkle yeast over. Let stand 5 minutes to proof. When it softens and sinks, add remaining ingredients, mixing with wooden spoon (or use dough hook and low speed on KitchenAid mixer).
Scrape out of bowl and knead for 10 minutes on floured surface, adding more bread flour if necessary to keep from sticking (or knead with dough hook in KitchenAid).
Oil large bowl with olive oil and add dough, spreading a little oil on top. Cover with plastic wrap and then a clean tea towel. Let rise in warm place 1 hour.
Punch dough down and let sit on floured counter, covered with bowl, 10 minutes to relax gluten. Form 2 oblong loaves; roll each loaf slightly to taper the ends (torpedo shape). Place loaves on parchment paper(far apart), and slash lengthwise (about 1/2-inch deep) with a sharp knife. Cover lightly with clean towel and let rise 30 to 40 minutes.
Place a large baking sheet in oven; preheat oven to 375F (this allows sheet to heat). Remove towel and transfer parchment with loaves to sheet. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when thumped. Makes 2 beautiful loaves.