This was my first time tackling bread made with yeast. While it was initially intimidating- it was much easier than expected. Though it is time consuming- most of the time is just spent waiting for the dough to rise. I made mine with sea salt and rosemary topping- but feel free to be inventive.
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
1 medium baking potato (about 9 oz), peeled and quartered
1-1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl and pan
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
3/4 teaspoons coarse seal salt or 1-1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. For the dough: Bring 1 quart water to a boil in a small saucepan: add the potato and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the potato well, cool, and grate through large holes of a box grater. Reserve 1-1/3 cups lightly packed potato.
2. Meanwhile, using a standing mixer of food processor, mix or process the yeast, 1/2 cup of the flour, and 1/2 cup of the warm water until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (or put the work bowl lid on) and set aside until bubbly, about 20 minutes. Add the remaining dough ingredients, including the reserved potato. If using the mixer, attach the paddle and mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium; continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic- about 5 minutes. For the food processor, process until the dough is smooth and elastic- about 40 seconds.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with oil and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until the dough is puffy and doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. With wet hand, press the dough flat into a generously oiled 15-1/2 by 10-1/2- inch rimmed baking sheet. If the dough resists going into the corners (and it probably will) cover it with a damp cloth and let it relax for 15min before trying to stretch again. Or, if making rounds, halve the dough and let it relax for 15 minutes before trying to stretch again. Or, if making rounds, halve the dough and flatten each piece into an 8-inch round on a large (at least 18 inches long– or can split onto two pans), generously oiled baking sheet. Either way, cover the dough with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm, draft-free until the dough is puffy and doubled in volume, 45 min to 1 hour.
5. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. With wet two fingers, dimple the risen dough at regular intervals. The dimples (about 2 dozen- or one dozen in each 8 inch round). should be deep enough to hold small pieces of topping, herbs and pools of olive oil.
6. For the topping: Drizzle the dough with the oil and sprinkle evenly with rosemary and coarse salt, landing some in pools of oil.
7. Bake until the bottom crust is golden brown and crisp, 23-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.