Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rosemary Artisan Bread

In my mind I can see myself in a spacious, industrial kitchen with a brick oven that I know how to use like a pro. I move seamlessly around my clean, efficient space wearing an official-looking apron, baking gourmet pizzas and specialty artisan breads. In my mind I also have effortless, loose curls that I've tied just as effortlessly into a charming ponytail.

I think we should just continue to imagine that, don't you? Well, I will let you in on one of my realities and that is that, even though I LOVE specialty breads, I am just beginning to come out of the dark when it comes to making homemade bread of any kind. I have a few friends who regularly make their own bread and really have a knack for it. One is Nicolina who pretty much always has fresh bread and homemade croutons in her salads whenever we go over there to eat. Another is Beth, who you'll remember is the one who gave us the Fall Veggie Bisque recipe. And she happens to be our benefactor once again with this artisan bread recipe!

Rosemary Artisan Bread
adapted by Beth Luke & Janna Patterson from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Yield: 2-3 loaves
1.5 TBS kosher salt
1.5 TBS yeast (or about 2 of those small yeast packets)
3c. warm water
Handful of fresh rosemary leaves (or other desired herbs)
6.5c. flour and mix

Special Tools: Pizza stone

Combine salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl and add water. (I allow the yeast to activate, but it doesn't say you need to in the original recipe.)
Add rosemary and/or other herbs of choice
Add flour and mix. Cover and let rise at least 2 hours, until dough is at least flat on top or even collapsing in.
Cover and put in fridge (Don't cover with anything too airtight.)
When you are ready to bake, cut off a hunk about as big as a grapefruit. I get my hands a little bit wet because the dough is really sticky. Turn it in your hands, kind of smoothing it into a ball, for about 30 seconds and place on a cutting board dusted in cornmeal.
Let rise 40 minutes.
After 20 minutes of rising, start the oven at 450 and put the pizza stone in the oven.
After the whole 40 minutes, dust the top of dough with flour and cut a couple of slits. Put a pan of water into the oven as well. Slide the dough onto the stone.
Bake 30 minutes and cool on a rack.

Notes from Beth: I think this is a pretty flexible recipe. It can rise for more than two hours (I left it for almost 5 once and it made no difference). I've used half wheat flour. It makes three smallish loaves (or probably 2 bigger ones) and I leave the dough in the fridge almost all week and just bake it as we need it.
Serve alongside the Fall Veggie Bisque as part of the Fancy Dinner Party Menu.
Nobody can resist.

Thanks again, Beth!

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