4 cups bread flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 and 1/2 cup tepid water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
optional toppings: sesame seeds, herbs(fresh or dry), sliced olives
The dough for this recipe can be prepared in a table top stand mixer or in a large bowl and kneaded by hand. If kneading by hand, increase the kneading time to at least 10 minutes. The dough will be ready when it becomes smooth.
Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a cup and set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. It is active when a puffy cloud appears on the top. If this does not happen, throw away the mixture and start with different yeast. Yeast very rarely goes bad, but when it does, it cannot be used.
Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Once the yeast is activated add it to the flour mixture along with the olive oil.
Knead on low speed for 7 minutes.
Place the dough in an oiled large bowl and cover with plastic. Set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. This usually takes around 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the temperature.
Punch down the dough and cut into 2 equal portions.
Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
Using your fingertips or a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle about the same size of the pan, about 10 inches by 14 inches.
This is a rustic bread, so shape it however you like. Rectangular shapes are very common.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise about 30 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, 218 degrees Celsius.
Place a cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven to warm up while the oven is preheating.
It is also a good idea to keep a pizza stone on the rack that the bread will bake on. (center rack)
If you do not have a pizza stone, a ceramic tile will do the trick. Just make sure to keep it in the oven while it is preheating. Placing a cold stone/tile in a hot oven will cause it to crack. I leave my stone inside the oven at all times.
The cast iron pan along with the pizza stone/ceramic tile will create bakery style bread.
After 30 minutes, using your fingertips press into the dough to create the characteristic look of lagana bread.
Brush the dough with water and sprinkle sesame seeds or your favorite herbs on top.
Bake the trays one at a time.
Place the tray onto the pizza stone/tile and bake for 15 minutes or until the bread is golden.
Allow the bread to rest about 8-10 minutes then serve.