Ahhh...the scent of freshly baked bread. Don't you just love it? T and I have made it one of our 'kitchen projects' this year to learn to successfully make homemade bread. While T has taken the studied approach and read about all of the different components that are required to make a successful loaf of bread, I have taken the trial-and-error method to heart. So far, our greatest challenge has been trying to achieve the requisite amount of air pockets in ciabatta bread.
You would think that if you let the bread proof (otherwise known as rise), and the yeast is fresh and fully active, there would be no issues getting those delightful pockets of air. We, however, can't seem to make it happen, and have had a rough go at this. It seems that the best luck has come in the form of the non-traditional overnight rising rustic no-knead bread. When we've tried using a traditional recipe for ciabatta bread, we end up with no air pockets and what appears to the eye as French bread. By no means is this the end of the world, and it still tastes delicious, but it just means that the loaf doesn't look how it should on the inside.
Today, I was in the mood to try out a new bread recipe. I have made similar bread loaves using a no-knead method (to be blogged about another day), but I was busy running errands today and didn't think about making a fresh loaf until a few hours before dinner. An all-night proofing extravaganza just wasn't in the cards. Lucky for me, this bread is done in approximately two and half hours, and didn't throw any wrenches in my plan to have fresh baked bread to go with the Poblano Chicken Chowder I planned for dinner.
Step One: Gather the ingredients. It is important to use fresh yeast so that the bread will rise properly.
Step two: In large bowl, activate the yeast by mixing it with warm water. Also add sugar at this time. Tip: Warm the bowl first so that the heat from the water is used to activate the yeast instead of warming the bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes, add the spices, and mix together before adding flour.
Step three: The bread will need to rise twice. One hour in an olive oil coated large bowl, and after punching down and shaping, a second time for 45 min. on parchment paper covered with corn meal. Make sure to cover the dough while it rises to help trap the heat.
|Recipe adapted from a hint of honey|
ROSEMARY OLIVE OIL BREAD | Yield: 1 round loaf | Total Time: 2 hrs 30 min
(15 min Prep, 1 hr 45 min Proof, 20-25 min Bake)
1 C warm water (100-110 degrees)
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning (or pinch each of ground garlic, dried oregano, dried basil)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C bread flour + extra for kneading
1 egg, whisked + 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash
dried rosemary, for sprinkling
NOTE: When guessing the amount of bread dough used for kneading, just keep adjusting until the dough no longer sticks to the sides, but is still tacky to the touch. I used almost an entire extra cup of bread dough to achieve this consistency. If your dough is too dry, you can add a little water.
In the bowl of stand mixer, combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Let sit 10 min to proof.
Stir in the salt, rosemary, seasonings, olive oil, and whole wheat flour. Using the dough hook attachment, add the bread flour a little at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Set mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes. Adjust flour or water as needed until dough no longer sticks to sides of bowl.
NOTE: If you don't have a stand mixer, you can also knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured surface for about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl; cover; and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hr.
Punch down the dough and form it into a round loaf. Place it on a cornmeal dusted sheet of parchment paper; cover; and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 min.
Meanwhile, preheat oven (and baking stone) to 400 degrees. Once the dough has risen, gently brush the top with egg wash and sprinkle with dried rosemary.
Bake on preheated stone for 20-25 min until the top is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
NOTE: If you don't have a baking stone, you can bake on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
This bread is best eaten fresh, but can be double bagged and frozen. To reheat, wrap in foil and bake at 350 degrees. No need to thaw. The texture turned out light and fluffy and would be perfect for a sandwich or accompanying a great bowl of soup.
Do you have any favorite bread recipes?