Remember the time in school when the kid in your class, you know the one, finally mastered a new spelling word or a math problem and everyone acted like he was had just invented…I don’t know….french fries…..or something else amazing? And you were like………..”what’s the big deal? I figured that out last week?” You may feel that way about this post, it’s ok. I understand. You probably mastered bread a long time ago. And it’s not like I have never made bread, I make a darn good zucchini bread and banana bread, but you and I both know that doesn’t count. Those could easily be made into muffins too. When I say “I made bread”, I mean I “proofed” (that’s my new smarty pants, I know how to make bread lingo) yeast in warm milk, kneeded by hand, etc., etc. I made real bread.
I could eat warm bread smeared with butter for every meal and every snack for the rest of my life. I love it. Nothing in this world is too big for me to handle if you’ll just please, please pass be the bread!! And this bread isn’t just plain bread….don’t go smearing peanut butter and jelly on this. Oh no. This is bread very similar to what you might eat at Biaggi’s or Macaroni Grill. A slightly crispy crust, soft chewy bread made with a generous amount of rosemary. It will smell up your whole house and ruin every “I’m cutting back on carbs” intention you ever had.
I found the recipe on allrecipes.com. Love that site. This recipe was actually written for use in a bread machine. I don’t have a bread machine. Eric has offered to buy me one but I don’t want another appliance sitting on my counter. I have enough clutter in my house. Lucky for me, some awesome reviewers posted how to make this by hand, which made me feel even more accomplished as a first time bread maker. I learned that “proofing” the yeast means to dissolve it in a warm liquid for 10 minutes before starting the mixture. The recipe calls for water but I used milk so I would get a softer bread.
After your yeast is proofed and all that, you combine some flour, sugar, salt, and olive oil to it in a large mixing bowl. I started with the paddle attachment and beat it on high for 3 minutes or so until it looked like pancake batter.
When I had my pancake batter consistency, I switched to the dough hook and started gradually adding the remaining flour along with some pepper, Italian seasoning, and rosemary. I let the dough hook do its work until the dough all pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Like this.
Then I finished kneading it by hand, about five minutes. The first time, it was perfect. The second time, it was stickier so I gradually kneaded an additional couple tablespoons of flour into it. I found that a good measure of stickiness is this: when I start kneading, my hands are completely covered in dough, but as I knead it, it starts to pull the dough away from my hands. By the end, my hands are clean. The second time took me closer to eight minutes.
I sprayed a bowl with pam and stuck my hunk of dough in there, covered it with a damp towel, and set it in a warm place to rise. I let it rise the first time for about an hour, maybe a touch longer.
Then I punched it down (fun!), shaped it into a loaf and put it in a greased 9X5 inch bread loaf pan. Then I covered back up with the towel and let it rise in the loaf pan another hour. Just before popping it in the oven, I brushed melted butter on it and sprinkled sea salt and pepper on top.
It baked at 375 for 20 minutes and then I turned it up to 425 and let it bake another 8 minutes. Perfect.
I was so excited that I sliced a piece off right away and smeared butter on top. Amazing. Exactly what I was hoping for. This is also great dipped in a mixture of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and pepper.
Ever wonder what Anna is doing while I bake and photograph food? This day she cleverly learned how to take the lid off her sippy cup. Yay….
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Warm the milk in the microwave for 1 minute. Add the yeast and combine with a fork. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
Combine the milk/yeast in a large mixing bowl with 1 cup of the flour, the olive oil, sugar, and salt. Mix in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on high speed for 3-4 minutes, until it looks like pancake batter.
Switch attachments to the dough hook. Add the herbs and pepper and gradually add the remaining flour, letting the dough hook mix the dough until it comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Remove the dough from mixer and knead by hand for at least five minutes, your hands should be free from dough when you are finished.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a damp towel and place somewhere warm to rise for an hour. Punch the dough down after an hour (it should have doubled in size) and then form into a loaf and place in a greased 9X5 loaf pan. Cover back up with the towel and put it back in a warm place to rise another hour.
Cut a large X in the top, brush the top with butter and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, turn the oven temp up the 425 and bake an additional 8 minutes.