Here is one that I make. It is somewhat inspired by the bread they have at Rosa’s in Ontario, which had delicious fennel seeds embedded in it. I go a step further and make it with dessert flour and some of it being whole wheat dessert flour, which I think compliments the flavor. My wife doesn’t like this because she’s not a fan of fennel. One thing to keep in mind when you make anything with fennel or anise in it is some people are absolutely repelled by the flavor. Oh, but I love it. If you or who you are making this for is such a person, just omit the fennel and at the last step where you’d add the salt on top, also sprinkle some herbs from province on top. It’s a good replacement since the lavender also adds a good sweet aroma.
- 3/4 cup all-purpose white flour or more as needed
- 1 cup white pastry four
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup water (if it’s not delicious water, the bread will suffer)
- 1 packet quick-rise yeast
- 1 tsp salt (I use kosher sea-salt – I particularly like Redmond)
- 1 tbsp sugar or more, to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil or more, to taste
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, or to taste. can replace with fresh fennel leaves, chopped.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Then, heat up the water until it is warm, not hot. Dissolve sugar into it, then stir in the yeast packet. When the yeast begins to foam, mix in some olive oil. Then Mix in the dry mix, a ladle-full at a time. The dough should be fairly smooth and not overly wet. Add additional all-purpose flour as needed to achieve the right consistency, or sprinkle water if the mix is too dry (I think many people make the mistake of making their dough too dry).
Pour olive oil into iron skillet and use it to oil all the sides. Then, place dough into iron skillet and flip it over so it’s coated with a thin layer of the oil. Place plastic wrap over the dough and the pan and let rise. Preheat oven to 450°F (~230°C) so that it will be ready by the time the dough has doubled in bulk. You may need to push it down so it fills the pan if it remained in a ball shape (which is a good sign). Once it has doubled in bulk, remove plastic, optionally sprinkle salt on top (I use a salt grinder with sea salt) and place skillet with dough in the oven. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Slice and serve hot with a rich, fruity olive oil (optional, sliced garlic – optional, dash of balsamic vinegar or balsamic vinegar glaze).
The consistency of this dough is also suitable for pizza, so if you change the recipe a little (no fennel seeds and only enough sugar to make the yeast happy), you’ve got a good pizza dough, but I’ll cover pizza later. You can make this all white flour or all whole wheat, too. My experience shows that whole wheat, like brown rice, needs more water, so you may need to adjust accordingly. I like the flavor of this with 100% whole wheat, but it’s easier to get it to rise when you half and half it. Also, you don’t have to use dessert flour, but I prefer the texture using it. I made a half-recipe of this yesterday in my mini-iron skillet. You may wish to do the same if it’s just for a couple of people.
Lastly, I want to get out of the stupid American habit of measuring flour by volume. The only accurate way of doing it is by mass (weight), so I hope to go back later and change this to be in grams. Get a kitchen scale, people!