Rosemary Olive Oil Boule

Rosemary Olive Oil Boule

After two whole days of NOT making bread, last night I enjoyed kneading this olive-oil bread with fresh rosemary. With an overnight fermentation in the fridge, it came out of the oven at 10.25am, just in time for a warm, fragrant slice slathered with ripe brie. And because I made a bigger batch that usual, the yield was two boules – one to keep, and one to give way.

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman: A healthy dose of olive oil gives this rosemary-infused bread a rich, moist crumb and pale golden hue ; it also helps it keep a little better than other European-style breads.

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:

600g (4¾ cups) all-purpose flour
– I use 500g bread flour and 100g rye or wholewheat
12g (3 tsp) Kosher salt
12g (3 tsp) instant or rapid-rise yeast
150g levain (sourdough starter)
300g (1½ cups) water at room temperature, more if required
65g (1/2 cup) olive oil
Small handful fresh rosemary leaves
– one supermarket packet
Butter or oil spray such as Pam for greasing the bowls

Method:

1.   Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor. Turn on the machine and add the olive oil through the feed tube, followed by 3⁄4 cup water. Process 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. (Alternatively, you can use a handheld power beater – I just mix the dry ingredients, then add the levain, olive oil and water; beat for 30 seconds, and add more water until all the flour is incorporated.) 
Let the dough rest for 25 minutes.

2.   Strip the rosemary leaves off the stems, and chop finely.  I use a curved mezzaluna, but a good chef’s knife will go as well.

3.   Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and, by hand, knead in the rosemary until the dough feels smooth and elastic. Wash the mixing bowl, oil or spray with Pam. Place the ball of dough the bowl, cover with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam, and let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 2 hours. (You can cut this rising time as short as one 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; thaw in a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature.) 
At this point, I cut the ball in two (approx. 600g each), put each half in a separate bowl, covered them, and put in the fridge.  The slow rise produces more flavor.

4.   In the morning, take the two balls out of the fridge. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. Shape each half of the dough into a boule, 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 up to two hours, until doubled in size.

5.   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.

6.   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. Rub the loaf with a little flour (this helps prevent scorching) and slash the top 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.

Bake for 25 minutes, 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.

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 a printable .pdf file for Rosemary Olive Oil Boule.

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