This is the recipe: http://dkscooks.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/on-the-rise-italian-bread/
Great question! I often don't proof separately, because I buy my yeast regularly from a trusted source (in bulk) so I don't doubt its freshness. But there is some risk involved in doing that. Active dry yeast has a light coating on it, which must be dissolved. Most bread recipes are wet enough to do that. But to be safe, I'd use 1/4 cup of the water called for in the recipe, and proof the yeast separately. Also, use a bit more (25% more) yeast than the recipe calls for. Then, when you add the remaining one cup of water + salt, also add the proofed yeast in water. ;o)
Thank you so much! This is very helpful.
My pleasure! I've been down that road so many times . . . Happy baking! ;o)
You can safely double the amount of yeast.