I want to start off by telling everyone that I haven’t the slightest idea why this is called Real Spanish Bread. In the recipe, it is stated that it comes from a panadero or panaderia, which is Spanish for bakery, but looking at the ingredients, I think it could be called Real Italian Bread, Real American Bread, or Real German Bread and no one would know the difference! It was shared with me by our own Martha Draper. The bottom line on this bread is that it’s easy, makes a whole bunch of bread, and the dough, when you get to the point where you begin making shapes out of it prior to baking, is fun to work with! Make a batch of this and a loaf of Camp Bread right before your Thanksgiving guests arrive, and you’ll have your bread needs covered quite nicely.
Real Spanish Bread
Dean Derhak, firstname.lastname@example.org
1 ½ tablespoons of bread yeast
3 cups warm water
7 cups unbleached (preferably) flour
2 teaspoons salt (we found we like just a bit more salt, 2 ½ teaspoons was about right for us)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Mix the yeast in the warm water and let it sit in a warm place for about 10 minutes.
2. Mix the salt with the flour and run it through a sifter, allowing it to fall into a large bowl.
3. Using your fingers, mix in the olive oil.
4. Slowly pour in the raised yeast and water mixture while working the dough with your hands.
5. Place the dough on a well floured flat surface and knead it until it becomes firm and elastic.
6. Grease a bowl and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and set in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour, depending upon the temperature.
7. Remove the dough and knead it again to remove air pockets and until the dough feels smooth. Return the dough ball to the bowl, cover it again, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
8. Remove the dough from the bowl, and cut it into sizes that you can form into bars, loafs, balls or “sticks,” and place on greased pans. (We had to use 2 pans.)
9. Using a very sharp knife, cut slits in the tops of the more solid bars or mini-loaves, as desired.
10. Let dough rise on the pans for 30 more minutes, or until the tops of the bars/loaves begin to flatten.
11. Place in a very hot over (450 degrees) for 30 to 50 minutes (we found 30 minutes worked just about perfectly for our oven). When the tops begin to turn toasty and brown, pull them out, pluck one from the pan, and tap it with a wooden spoon. If it sounds hollow, they’re ready to remove from the oven and allowed to cool.
As you can tell from the picture, we got a bit carried away with the dough when it came time to make shapes out of it! We braided some of it, made pretzel shapes out of it, and also built a couple of standard, boring, mini-loaves. Invite the kids and/or grandkids in to help come up with interesting shapes. Their imaginations are unfettered by traditional thinking, and they can work it like Play Dough. If your family likes a fancier “finish” on the tops of their breads, brush on a egg wash right before you put them in to bake. The bread will come out nice and shiny, looking a bit like they were recently varnished.