- 3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 7 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- 1 1/2 cups of warm milk (whole is best, low-fat is ok too)
- 3 eggs + 1 for the glaze
- 6 tablespoons of olive oil + 1 teaspoon for greasing the bowl and another for the glaze
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- Vanilla turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top (optional)
In a large bowl using a whisk combine the yeast, sugar, salt and 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Add the warm milk, 3 eggs, 6 tablespoons of olive oil, then the honey and vanilla. (Add the olive oil first, then use the same measuring spoon to add the honey – residual oil on the spoon will make the honey slide right out.) Vigorously mix the ingredients until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway through, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, switching to a wooden spoon when the dough becomes too thick for the whisk. Continue mixing the dough until it is too stiff to stir.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and springy, about 4 minutes. If the dough is sticky, dust with flour 1 tablespoon at a time – just enough to prevent it from sticking to the surface. The dough is done when it’s smooth and small air bubbles show under the skin. If you press your thumb into it the impression should bounce back. This is a slightly firm dough, which is exactly what you want for easy shaping later on.
Place the dough in a deep container greased with 1 tsp of olive oil. Turn the dough once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Grease a standard sized springform pan with baking spray, such as PAM. Gently deflate the dough and roll egg-sized sections into smooth balls. Line the edges of the pan with the balls, then work your way towards the center of the pan. Once the first layer is done arrange any remaining balls of dough on top. (I placed four in the center and two on either side of the four balls in the center.)
Lightly spray a sheet or saran wrap with PAM and cover the dough, sprayed side down. Allow the dough to rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes to an hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Just before the rising time has finished whisk together 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of olive oil, this is going to be the glaze for your bread.
Gently brush the dough with a thick layer of egg wash. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top of the glaze, about 1 to 2 tablespoons or as much as you want. If you like, you can add about 1 tablespoon of vanilla turbinado sugar on top of this.
Place the dough in the oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the bread is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow when you thump it on the bottom. If the bread browns too quickly, tent with aluminum foil to allow the inside of the bread to finish baking.
Transfer to a baking rack to cool. This bread is especially satisfying warm from the oven.