02 November, 2012

Rosemary Olive Bread

Every once in a while, you crave Italian food.  My 'rents were here with a new recipe they tried at my sister's place in Alberta.  Low carb lasagna.  I'll save that one for another day...and for when I master the moisture issue the zucchini brings to the recipe.  But, what does EVERYone want when they eat Italian food??  You GOT it!  Some killer bread.  So, I got on it and made one of my favorite recipes from Cook's Illustrated.  Rosemary Olive Bread!!

There are numerous reasons I fell in love with this recipe.  The pungent rosemary, the soft texture of the bread and the irresistibly crusty exterior.  Then...there is the wonderful way it soaks up whatever sauce you dip it in.  The 'rents liked the balsamic dipping oil with theirs, I went virg or just dipped it in the lasagna sauce every once in a while.  Plain, red sauce, dipping oil...no matter how you prefer your bread, this recipe has you covered!

*This is time very time consuming.  But, its worth the effort for the end product.  ALL of the rests and rises are crucial to this loaf turning out perfect.  Also, I skipped the wheat flour and just went with 4 c. of King Arthur bread flour.  

Rosemary Olive Loaves
1 3/4 c. (14 ounces) room temperature water 
2 tsp. instant yeast
2 T. honey
3 1/2 c. bread flour
1/2 c. wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 c. pitted olives, chopped and patted dry

Whisk water, yeast, and honey in bowl of standing mixer.  Add flours and mix on low speed with dough hook until cohesive dough is formed, about 3 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. 

Remove plastic wrap; make well in center of dough and add salt and rosemary. Knead dough on low speed (speed 2 on KitchenAid) for 5 minutes (if dough creeps up attachment, stop mixer and scrape down). Increase speed to medium and continue to knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 1 minute. If dough is very sticky, add 1 to 2 tablespoons flour and continue mixing for 1 minute. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and pat into 12 by 6-inch rectangle. Press olives evenly into dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Starting at long side, roll rectangle into tight log. With seam side facing up, roll log into coil. Transfer dough, spiral side up, to oiled container or bowl, at least 2 quarts in volume, and cover with plastic wrap or cheesecloth towel. Let dough rise in warm, draft-free location until it increases in size by 50 percent, about 1 hour.  I warm my oven to 200 F then turn it off right before I stick my dough in to rise.  I do this every time I remove it from the oven, then return it for more rising.  The last "episode" of rising takes place on the stove while the oven warms to 450 F.

Fold partially risen dough over itself. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl again; fold once more. Cover with plastic wrap or towel and let rise 30 minutes. Repeat folding, replace plastic wrap/towel, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface, being careful not to deflate. Divide dough in half or thirds, loosely shape each piece into ball, and let rest 15 minutes. Flip each ball over and, starting from top, roll into tight oval shape. Using palms, roll each oval (seam side down) from center outward until 12-inch loaf is formed. Poke any olives that fall off into bottom seam, then pinch seam closed. Transfer each loaf, seam side down, and cover with plastic wrap/towel. Using a VERY sharp knife cut 2 inch slits every two inches along the tops of the loaves. 

Before rising

Let rise on sheet or in pan you intend on baking the bread on until loaves double in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours (dough is ready when it springs back slowly when pressed lightly with finger). 

**I never pressed my loaves, I just let them rise the hour and a half and went to town.  I always make three loaves with this recipe.  When I made it as concocted by Cook's, I ended up having two MONSTROUS loaves of bread that were better suited for sandwiches.  There is NO reason why you can't do that say...with fennel and golden raisins.  That would make a GREAT Italian loaf for ham sandwiches, but for a side bread with a meal...they just end up way too large if you only make two loaves.  Lastly, this recipe originally tells you to place these loaves to rise on parchment and bake them on a stone...if you have a stone, go for it.  But it is a lot more fiddling than most people want to mess with.  If you use a stone, put it in the oven when you turn it on to heat to 450 F. 

After rising, before first spray of water

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking.

Spray loaves lightly with water. Bake 15 minutes, spraying loaves with water twice more in first 5 minutes, and then reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Continue to bake until bread is deep golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf registers 210 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool loaves to room temperature, about 2 hours.

*After removing from the oven, I immediately brushed my loaves with a light coating of extra virgin olive oil.  This seals the bread and keeps it moist.

Right out of the oven

Completely cooled and ready to devour!
 Everyone loved this bread.  My 'rents ended up leaving early to get home to Minnesota to prepare for their mission.  They got word that they might be asked to report for their mission earlier than they had previously thought.  When I offered to send them home with a loaf, it was a nano second decision.  I hope you love this recipe as much as my family and I do.  Make it your own...  There are a lot of things you can do with this.  For instance, I used all green organic sea salted olives...but for those that love a salt factor you can go with a combo of regular green olives or a mix of green and Kalamata.  There is really no "wrong" you can do with this!  Have fun!

P.S. Someone already asked me on the Foodnatic Facebook page what kind of pan it was that I used.  So...here it is.  The "three channel loaf pan", cheapest on Amazon.com


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