Lavender Bread

Lavender Olive Oil Bread

I wanted to make more Rosemary Olive Oil bread, but didn’t want to strip my rosemary plant, so I tried the same recipe with fresh lavender leaves.  The slight sweetness of the lavender makes this especially good for French toast — and indeed, my beta testers have already asked for more!

Note:  In making bread, exact proportions are important, so I find it works better to measure everything in grams, including liquids.  Use an electronic scale with both ounces and grams.

Ingredients:

400g (3 cups) all-purpose flour
OR 200g all-purpose flour and 200g bread flour (high protein)
8g (2 tsp) Kosher salt
8g (2 tsp) instant or rapid-rise yeast
200g (scant cup) water at room temperature
45g (1/3 cup) olive oil
Small handful fresh lavender leaves, finely chopped
Butter or oil spray such as Pam for greasing the bowls/pans

OPTIONAL:  100g levain (starter)

Method:

1.   Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl, plus the levain (if using).  Add the olive oil and room temperature water, and beat (or use an electric beater) for about 30 seconds, adding more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch.  Make sure to include the flour at the bottom of the bowl.

2.   Turn the dough onto a floured work surface.  Sprinkle with the lavender and knead by hand until the dough feels smooth. Put it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap (sprayed with oil or Pam), and let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours.  (You can cut this rising time as short as 1 hour if you are in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 8 hours.  At this point, you may also wrap the dough tightly in plastic and freeze for up to a month;  when ready to use, thaw in a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature.)

3.   Lightly dust a work surface with flour.  Shape the dough into a round, sprinkling with flour as necessary but keeping it to a minimum.  Line a colander or large bowl with a well-floured kitchen towel, set the loaf in the bowl, and cover with another towel (this keeps it from spreading too much).  Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours.  You can also let it rise in a Dutch oven or Le Creuset casserole.

4.   About 45 minutes before the dough has risen, heat the oven to 425°F. Put an ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) on the floor or the lowest rack while the oven heats.  If you’re using a baking stone, put it on the rack above the skillet while the oven heats; if not, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5.   Once you’re ready to bake, slide or turn the dough out onto a lightly floured peel or flexible cutting board, seam side down, or just transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.  Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife or razor blade.  Use the peel or cutting board to slide the loaf onto the baking stone or slide the baking sheet into the oven.  Partially pull out the rack with the heated skillet and very carefully pour one cup hot water into the skillet – this will create a burst of steam.  Slide the rack back in and immediately close the oven door.

OR:  Cover the Dutch oven and slide it into the preheated oven.  If you do this, you’ll need to take the lid off after 25 minutes, then bake for a further 10-15 minutes.

6.   Bake for about 40 minutes, turning the bread or the baking sheet halfway through, until the crust is golden brown, the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, and the internal temperature reaches 200°F on a quick-read thermometer. If the bread is browning too quickly, lower the temperature to 400°F.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

7.   When completely cool, you can wrap the spare loaf in a ziplok bag to freeze, or store at room temperature in a loose bag, cut side down. As with chocolate, we find that storage is not a problem!

Here is the printable .pdf for Lavender Bread.

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