It should be pretty obvious that I like baking bread, so when I got a chance to work with a crisping mat from Harold Import Company, you'd better believe I put it through its paces.
The surface of the mat is nonstick, so there's no need for cornmeal under the dough. The mat is actually a very fine mesh, so there are holes that allow air circulation under the baking bread. It's really a great idea.
Even if the bread is a little sticky - like a sweet bread that might ooze sugary stuff - or a cheesy bread like the one I made for this challenge - the bread doesn't stick and the mat is easy to clean. It's dishwasher safe, but things like this are awkward in my dishwasher, so I've only washed it by hand.
If you bake a lot of bread, pastries, cookies, or other baked goods where a crisp, non-soggy bottom is preferred, I suggest you give one of these mats a try. And although I haven't tried it, it should be pretty awesome for reheating things like pizza, where you really do want a non-soggy bottom.
I made a round, free-form loaf studded with bits of green olives (and the pimento stuffing) with a little bit of cheese for added flavor.
Since I used a white cheese, it's not visible inside the bread, but you can see flecks of browned cheese bits where it was close to the surface of the dough. The finished bread is rich and savory, with little bits of salty green olive and sweet pimento.
Green Olive & Pimento Bread with a Hint of Cheese
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces shredded cheese
16 pimento-stuffed well-drained green olives, sliced or roughly chopped
Combine the water, yeast, sugar, bread flour, salt and olive oil in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Add the cheese and olives and mix until well-combined.
Cover the mixer bowl and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.
When the dough has risen, flour your work surface, place the crisping mat on a baking sheet, and heat the oven to 350°F.
Knead the dough briefly, then form it into a tight ball. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Or, what I did was use the empty mixing bowl as a cover. Set aside until the dough has doubled in size and if you gently poke the dough with a finger, it leaves an indent or slowly fills in rather than bouncing back quickly.
Slash the dough as desired and bake at 350°F until nicely browned, about 45 minutes.
Let the bread cool completely on a rack before slicing.
I received two baking mats at no cost to me from Harold Import Company.