Rosemary-Salt Loaves

>> Thursday, August 5, 2010

My favorite store-bought bread is the rosemary-salt loaf at Wegmans. It's perfectly browned with a fantastically crusty crust. Wonderful for sandwiches and just plain snacking. But it's make with white flour. There's a ton of salt in it (yes, though it's called rosemary-SALT bread, I still don't think this is a great thing). And it's expensive. So, like I do with so many other favorites of mine, I set out to create a replica loaf . . . or at least a healthier near-cousin.

Baking bread is probably the activity I find most rewarding in the kitchen. It's definitely an exact science, something you must do carefully and thoughtfully. The result is incredible more times than not. I've amazed myself many times with what I've made. And this recipe is no exception.

We used our bread for tomato-mozzarella sandwiches. I even sliced some pieces to toast for a breakfast PB&J (plus bananas). Despite what you may think about combining rosemary with those flavors . . . it was certainly something I'll do again.


What you'll need . . .
  • 2 cups water, room temperature
  • 2-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • More flour for dusting
  • 1 ounce active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl and plastic wrap
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Cornmeal, for dusting

Method . . .
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water, flour, yeast, and olive oil. Set your paddle attachment to low speed and mix until the ingredients are JUST incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (my mother-in-law suggested sticking it in the cool oven, which is warmer than most places in the house) until doubled in bulk -- about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the salt and rosemary . . . and mix to combine on low speed. Raise the speed to medium, and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but is still sticky (about 2 minutes).
  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for approx. 1 minute. Then transfer the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until, again, doubled in bulk (about 1 hour)
  4. Return the dough to a lightly floured surface and split into two balls. Roll out to be flat, ciabatta-looking loaves. Cover with the oiled plastic wrap, and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  5. Transfer the loaves to a wooden peel (or cutting board) dusted lightly with cornmeal, and drape with the oiled plastic wrap. Let rest until slightly puffed: 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, place a baking stone on the bottom oven rack and preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  7. Make slashes on the top of the loaves with a knife. Lift the stone from the bottom of your oven to the middle rack. Slide one loaf onto the stone (I just picked the dough up and quickly transferred it).
  8. Bake until the crust is a dark, golden brown (about 25 minutes). Please bread on wire rack to cool before slicing.
  9. Repeat with other loaf.

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