In the old days in Europe, women would mix up a little flour, yeast, and water before going to bed at night and then in the morning form the dough into a loaf. It was called hearth bread because the yeast mixture stayed warm by the hearth all night.
6 cup All-Purpose Flour, divided
2 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast, divided
2 cup Warm Water (105-115 degrees), divided
1 teaspoon Coarse Salt
0.25 cup Olive Oil (or half Olive Oil and half Canola Oil)
1 count Cornmeal, for springling on the baking stone, if using
Before you go to bed at night, mix 1 cup of the flour, 1 teaspoon of the yeast, and 1 cup of the water in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap (oiled on one side) and then again with a towel. Place a pan of hot water on the bottom of an unheated oven (to warm the oven) and place the bowl of dough on a center rack in the oven. In the morning add to this mixture 1 cup of the flour, the remaining 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1 cup of water, the salt, and the oil. Mix well. Add 3 more cups of the flour and stir with wooden spoon. (Alternatively, you may mix the dough with a heavy-duty mixer.) Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Gradually add more flour as you knead the dough to form a soft, smooth dough that does not stick to the floured surface, about 5 minutes. (If using a mixer, knead with a dough hook for 5 minutes.) Return the dough to the bowl (or let it rise in the mixer bowl) and re-cover it with plastic wrap (oiled on one side) and a towel. Set in a warm place to rise, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and knead briefly to remove the air bubbles. Divide the dough in half. From each half, pinch off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and set aside for the focaccia. If you’ll be using a baking stone, start preheating the oven to 425 degrees, with the stone on a lower rack; it takes about 30 minutes for the stone to get hot. With the two dough halves, form two small loaves or rounds and place them side by side on a greased baking sheet. Or, if you’re using a baking stone, place the loaves on a baker’s peel covered with flour. Cover the loaves with oiled plastic wrap and then again with a towel, and allow to rise while you make the focaccia square. Brought to you by BYUTV The Food Nanny
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