If you're using a mixer, just use its bowl. Otherwise use any large bowl.
Put 1 teaspoon of white sugar and 2 teaspoons yeast into the bowl.
Add 2 cups lukewarm water and stir until dissolved. Set aside for 10 minutes in a warm place. If the bowl is on a stone counter like granite or marble, put it on a towel to prevent heat loss.
After 10 minutes the yeast mixture should look foamy like this. If it doesn't, your yeast might be stale.
Add 1½ teaspoons salt, ⅔ cup white sugar, and ¼ cup olive oil. Mix well.
If you're using a mixer, add all 5½ cups of flour at once. Otherwise, add the first 1½ cups, mix well, then mix in the rest half a cup at a time.
Use a dough hook if you have one available. Turn the mixer on at the lowest setting. If the dough doesn't form into a ball, add more flour ¼ cup at a time.
It should look smooth and elastic after about 8 minutes or so. If necessary, scrape down the sides of the bowl every so often. You may not have to depending on your mixer.
Take the dough out of the bowl and set aside. I normally hold it in one hand while I add about 1-2 tbsp olive oil into the bowl. Put the dough in the oil and swirl it around to coat.
Make sure the dough is fully coated in oil. Otherwise the uncoated parts will dry out in the next step.
Let the dough rise in a warm place for about an hour. I usually leave it in a cool oven.
While the dough is rising, get your rolling pin and knife ready. I roll the dough out onto a silicone mat so I can cut directly on it.
Pour some cornmeal out onto a large cookie sheet. You'll be dipping the bottom of the rolls in this to prevent it from sticking to the cookie sheet. It also makes the crust crispier.
After about an hour, the dough should have doubled in volume. As tempting as it may be, don't punch it down. It'll be easier to roll that way.
Transfer the dough onto the silicone mat. It should be a big airy lump.
Cut the dough in half. Put one half back into the bowl.
Roll the other half of the dough into a large rectangle. Roll it out about 5-10 mm thick.
Starting with the long end, roll it into a tight log. Squish the seams together, then form it back into a log. Cut the log in half, then each piece in half again until you have 16 pieces.
Dip one cut end of each piece in the cornmeal. Arrange the pieces in a 4x4 grid on one half of the cookie sheet, cornmeal side down. Repeat with the other half of the dough to make a 4x8 grid.
Let the rolls rise in a warm place for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Time it so that when the dough has risen, the oven is ready to go.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. I like to undercook it so when I toast it later it doesn't brown too much. The rolls should expand even more in the oven. If they don't, you might have stale or dead yeast.
Eventually the rolls should take up all the space on the cookie sheet.
It's done! Let the rolls cool on the cookie sheet. Be careful not to squish them if you decide to eat some right after baking. Enjoy!
- Silicone mat
- Rolling pin
- Sharp knife
- 1.0tsp White sugar
- 2.0tsp Dry yeast
- 2.0c Lukewarm water
- 2/3c White sugar
- 1/2tsp Salt
- 1/4c Olive oil
- 1/2c All purpose white flour