Basic Bread Dough
Makes 1¾ pounds dough
A basic yeast dough is all you need to make bread, focaccia, rolls, breadsticks or pizza. The beauty of this dough is that you can easily double and triple the recipe, and it freezes well, too.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
13/4 cups warm water (110ºF), divided
2 teaspoons salt
4–5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, divided
Extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup of the warm water. Allow the yeast to proof until it is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining water and the salt.
2. Add the flour 1 cup at a time; you may not need to add all of it. Work the mixture until it comes together in a ball. Place the dough on a floured work surface, and knead it for 5–10 minutes, folding the dough over on itself several times, until it is shiny and elastic.*
3. Grease a bowl generously with olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl, and turn the dough a few times to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, place it in a warm place away from drafts, and let the dough rise for 3–4 hours or until doubled in size. The more slowly and the longer the dough rises, the tangier the flavor will be. Punch the dough down, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead a few times.
4. The dough is ready to use now for whatever you choose to make—bread, breadsticks, pizza, rolls, etc.—or can be frozen for up to 3 months.
*Note: Alternatively, add the yeast dry to the flour and salt, and skip the proofing. Add the water and pick up the directions above with kneading in Step 2.