Italian Rosemary Bread

Italian Rosemary Bread

I did not sleep well, and with a 9am client, I felt a little rushed for bread-making, but still got this Italian loaf with fresh rosemary out of the oven just as my client hit Zoom!

This recipe is a combination of the Rosemary Olive-Oil Boule, with techniques from the No-Time bread recipe.  It was ready in 2.5 hours, start to finish!

Key Steps for No-Time Bread

  • Preheat the Dutch oven. Just like with our no-knead breads, bake this bread in a preheated Dutch oven for a thin, crackly crust.  If you heat the pan while you heat the oven, it will be hot enough to give the dough a good oven spring — which results in a loftier loaf.

  • Preheat the dough. No really!  You’re going to cover the kneaded dough in a large microwave-safe bowl (with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with oil or Pam) and heat for 25 seconds to activate the instant yeast and get the dough rising.

  • Rest the dough between bursts of heat. In between microwave bursts, let the dough rest in the microwave where it will continue to rise.  Follow the first 25 seconds of microwaving with five minutes of resting, and the second burst of microwave heat with 15 minutes of resting time.  If you follow this plan, you will be taking the bread out of the oven about two hours after you started.

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:

14g (2 x ¼-ounce) packets active dry yeast
12g (1 Tbsp) any type of sugar
250g (generous 1½ cups) water – have some extra water to hand
150g levain or poolish –– I keep some in the fridge;  you can omit it if you don’t have any handy
500g (4 cups) bread flour
10g (1½ tsp) kosher salt
8g (1 tsp) balsamic vinegar
One packet (four stalks?) fresh rosemary, finally chopped
Butter or oil spray such as Pam for greasing the bowls

Method:

1.   Combine the water, dried yeast and levain, and leave in a warm place for five minutes while you measure out the dry ingredients and mince the rosemary.

2.   Using a handheld power beater, mix the yeast until smooth, then add the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  If necessary, add more hot water until all the flour is incorporated. 
 Over with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam or oil, and let the dough rest in a warm place for 20 minutes to autolyse.

3.   Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand until the dough feels smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Wash and dry the mixing bowl, and oil or spray with Pam.  Turn on the oven to 450°F (210°C) and place a suitable size of Le Creuset (or a Dutch oven) and lid in the middle of the oven.

4.   Place the ball of dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap sprayed with Pam, and put the bowl in the microwave.  Zap for 25 seconds, then let rest for five minutes.  Zap again for 25 seconds, and let rest for 15 minutes.  If it doesn’t seem to be warm enough (or have risen enough), zap for a third time for 25 second, and let rest for 15 minutes.

5.   Once you’re ready to bake, pull out the Le Creuset.  Tip the bowl over the pot, and (using a rubber spatula) gently tip the floppy dough into the Le Creuset.  Slash the top with a sharp knife or lame.  Quickly replace the lid, and slide the pot into the oven.

6.  Bake for 25 minutes, remove the lid, and bake for another 10 minutes until the crust is golden brown, the bottom sounds hollow when tapped, and the internal temperature reaches 195°F on a quick-read thermometer thrust into the middle of the loaf.

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.  This is delicious with Brie, ripe Camembert, or any other strong cheese (or paté, or…)  Generally speaking, storage is not a problem!

Here is a printable .pdf file for Italian Rosemary Bread.

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