Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rosemary Bread

I love bread.  I really do.  There's something comforting about a slice of bread from a freshly baked loaf that warms the soul.  I have to admit I don't really understand the low/no carb thing and the people that strictly abide by it.  I don't mean to alienate any of my readers, and I know it works for some people, but in my opinion it's all about moderation.  I tried a low/no carb diet a few times before our wedding in a last ditch attempt to drop a few pounds before the big day, and you know what happened?  I started the diet on a Monday and made it all the way until Friday at which point, when I got home from work I feverishly searched the pantry for a chip, a cracker, a piece of bread, etc. and had myself a nice carb binge.  I'm pretty sure that negated my entire week of carb consciousness.  Lesson learned.  

Soap box aside ;-) homemade bread is tasty on its own, but it can also be the perfect (and simple!) compliment to your dinner.  I usually try to make 4 baguettes every other week.  It's a time investment up front, but the benefits are reaped for the next few weeks since I cut each in half and place them in a resealable freezer bag for defrosting with dinners.  Lately I've been looking to deviate from my normal production.  I've been wanting to try to make a beer bread or herbed bread of some sort, but the right opportunity had not yet presented itself.  Low and behold during a visit from my parents my mom presented me with a beautiful bouquet of fresh rosemary from her herb garden.  Ding!  That was my answer.  Rosemary bread!   The recipe below is adapted from one I found on AllRecipes.  Don't be intimidated by the amount of time it takes.  With bread, there's minimal prep and cook time, but a lot of waiting for it to rise.  Usually I pick a day when I'll be home doing some other projects or errands. I'll prep the dough, then run out grocery shopping, do laundry, or write a blog entry, etc. and return when the dough requires attention.  Ultimately the end product completely justifies the time investment :)

1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup warm water
1 (0.25 ounce) package dry active, quick rise, yeast
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons chopped, fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon thyme
3 cups bread flour (I used King Arthur Bread flour)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Parchment paper
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water

1.  Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water in a medium bowl.
2.  As the yeast starts to bubble add the salt, 3 tablespoons of rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme.
3.  Using an electric mixer mix in the flour, 1/4 cup at a time.  Once the flour is blended in and the dough is formed, knead the dough for 6-10 minutes.
4.  Place the dough in a glass bowl greased with olive oil, cover with a damp paper towel and allow to rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size) in a warm location.

5.  Punch down the dough and divide it in half.  Shape in to two round loaves.

6.  Place the loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet.

7.  Cover with a damp paper towel and allow to rise 1 hour (or until approximately double in size) in a warm place.
8.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
9.  Mix the egg and water together.  Brush the mixture over each loaf of dough.  Sprinkle the remaining rosemary on top of each.
10.  Bake the loaves 15-20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

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