Rosemary Bread Recipe – Bread Upgraded

rosemary-bread-yumIs there a better thing to put savoury spreads on than rosemary bread? I don’t think so. Some people even say they spread Nutella on, but… that just doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

Homemade bread is one of the biggest names in “comfort foods” department. Even without any condiments or add-ons. But what if I tell you it is possible to upgrade it with the addition of a very simple and available herb? One that can be found in almost every garden? Yes, I actually am talking about the almost stereotypical herb – rosemary. It is very fragrant, and it has the magical ability to lift almost any dish. I have even used it in desserts. And with great success! It can make fresh summery dishes even fresher, and rich winter delights even deeper and richer.

So let’s go right back to basics – how to make bread. This is the most basic dish in, I think, most of the Western world, but still, it seems to be a problem for people to prepare it at home. At least the proper way.

Okay, there is no proper way to prepare bread, because there are at least as many ways as there are villages or something. But generally, what I notice… people of all generations try to make the ultimate bread at home, but fall for simple tricks every time. It is almost like with weight losing diets – even if deep inside, everyone knows that they just need to eat better and exercise more, people always seem to fall for a magical one step or one ingredient “solution”.

But bread… is actually a very simple thing

Delicious bread actually is one of the simplest dishes to prepare, if you take the time to understand what goes on as you combine ingredients, the chemistry that happens between them the time they need to become great.

What are the basics of bread? Flour, water and yeast. Simple as that. Even salt is optional. People of ancient Tuscany started making bread without salt because of some high taxes on salt, and they came to like it so much, some of their breads still contain no salt at all.

So – this rosemary bread – what is it all about?

I admit, this recipe is all about the bread. Rosemary is just a little cherry on the top of the cake, but if you refuse to learn to bake good bread, even a full bush of rosemary will not make it any better.

I feel I should remind you once more, that this blog only contains recipes without nuts, eggs and milk. But it is not a problem at all, because even people with severe nut, egg and milk allergies can eat homemade bread without any problems, as long as ingredients do not contain traces of any of the mentioned allergens.

Why did I even mention eggs and dairy? Because eggs and milk (sometimes even cream) actually are sometimes used as a sad try to add something “better” to the mix. Something that should help produce the evasive ultimate bread. Sorry, mums and grannies, it just doesn’t work that way. It actually is all about the extra steps you refuse to take because they do not mean adding ingredients.

Let’s make this rosemary bread, the ultimate pâté carrier.

Ingredients (one small, about 350 g rosemary bread)

  • 250 g white flour
  • 175 ml lukewarm water
  • 6 g salt
  • dry yeast
  • fresh rosemary
  • Olive oil

Instructions

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and 150 ml water.  With a kitchen aid or a hand mixer, mix the hell out of it. I am talking about 5 or more minutes of mixing. You want a totally smooth dough-like substance. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes.

First you combine only flour and water and let it rest. This is the base of a great rosemary bread!
First you combine only flour and water and let it rest. This is the base of a great rosemary bread!
At first, the dough looks very rough, but it gets smoother with mixing.
At first, the dough looks very rough, but it gets smoother with mixing.

In these 10-15 minutes, weigh 6 g of salt, and add it to the dough without mixing it in just yet. In this time, also measure 25 ml water and dissolve dry yeast in it. Use as much yeast as the writing on the packaging says to use for 250 g flour.

Salt (measure 6 g of it) and yeast dissolved in water.
Salt (measure 6 g of it) and yeast dissolved in water.

All this waiting is absolutely crucial!

When the 10-15 minutes have passed, add water-yeast mixture to the dough, and mix it thoroughly again. Now the mixture should be somewhat softer, but still totally smooth.

Add yeast and mix again. The dough becomes softer.
Add yeast and mix again. The dough becomes softer.

Spread a few drops of olive oil onto a bowl with a cover. It is just to prevent dough from sticking.

Transfer dough from your mixing bowl to the oiled one and cover it.

Rise the dough in an oiled covered container.
Rise the dough in an oiled covered container.

Now a crucial step our mothers and grandmothers don’t seem to get: Let it rest and do its thing for 30-45 minutes.

After 30-45 minutes, the dough will look smoother and become less sticky. Now is the time to wet your hands with cold water and start “folding” the dough. Folding basically means stretching the dough to its natural limitations without tearing it. You grab an edge of the dough ball and pull as far as you can without tearing and fold this stretched back. Rotate the bowl a little, and repeat the process on unfolded part of the dough. Repeat.

When you folded the dough ball all around, turn it upside down (so the folding seams are facing down), cover the bowl and let it rest for another 30-45 minutes.

After 30-45 minutes, transfer dough to a flour dusted surface. Fold the dough again, but this time try to form it so that when seams are facing down, it looks like a neat ball.

Resting the dough… and waiting. This is how good rosemary bread becomes great

A very neat ball of dough. Seam facing down and having a rest.
A very neat ball of dough. Seam facing down and having a rest.

Put your cast iron dish with a cover into the oven and preheat it to 260°C.

Let the dough ball rest for 15 minutes and then flatten it a little by gently pulling on its edges. Don’t push down on it, just pull edges away from its centre. Gently! Now stick a few pieces of rosemary into the dough around 3 cm apart. No need for excess use here, because rosemary is indeed very fragrant. Trust me, if you think you should add more, you used just enough already. Now, we can start calling this flat dough ball a rosemary bread.

Flattened bread dough with rosemary sticked in.
Flattened bread dough with rosemary sticked in. This one looks a bit cracked, because it rested for too long, but if you worked according to the recipe, yours should look a bit better.

Let rosemary bread rest for as long as your oven takes to get up to heat. Then put the cast iron dish out of the oven, and transfer bread into it. Be careful, because it is very hot. Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the bread, cover, and put it into the oven.

After 10 minutes, reduce heat to 230°C and bake for another 10 minutes. Uncover, and if the crust is looking sexy, it is done! If it still looks a bit pale, leave it in the oven uncovered for a few more minutes. Done!

Well done!
Rosemary bread – perfected!

Let the rosemary bread chill for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Rosemary Bread Recipe – Bread Upgraded

Rosemary Bread Recipe – Bread Upgraded

Ingredients

  • 250 g white flour
  • 175 ml lukewarm water
  • 6 g salt
  • dry yeast
  • fresh rosemary
  • Olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and 150 ml water.
  2. With a kitchen aid or a hand mixer, mix flour and water thoroughly for 5 or more minutes
  3. Let the mixture rest for 10-15 minutes.
  4. In these 10-15 minutes, weigh 6 g of salt, and add it to the dough without mixing it in just yet. Also measure 25 ml water and dissolve dry yeast in it. Use as much yeast as the writing on the packaging says to use for 250 g flour.
  5. When the 10-15 minutes have passed, add water-yeast mixture to the dough, and mix it thoroughly again until you have a very smooth dough.
  6. Spread a few drops of olive oil onto a bowl with a cover. Transfer dough from your mixing bowl to the oiled one and cover it tightly. Let it rest for 30-45 minutes.
  7. After 30-45 minutes, the dough will look smoother and become less sticky. Now is the time to wet your hands with cold water and start "folding" the dough. Folding means stretching the dough to its natural limitations without tearing it. Grab an edge of the dough ball and pull as far as you can without tearing and fold this stretched part back. Rotate the bowl a little and repeat the process on unfolded part of the dough. Repeat.
  8. When you folded the dough ball all around, turn it upside down (so the folding seams are facing down), cover the bowl and let it rest for another 30-45 minutes.
  9. After 30-45 minutes, transfer dough to a flour dusted surface. Fold the dough again, but this time try to form it so that when seams are facing down, it looks like a neat ball.
  10. Put your cast iron dish with a cover into the oven and preheat it to 260°C.
  11. Let the dough ball rest for 15 minutes and then flatten it a little by gently pulling on its edges. Don't push down on it, just pull edges away from its centre.
  12. Stick a few pieces of rosemary into the dough around 3 cm apart.
  13. Let rosemary bread rest for as long as your oven takes to get up to heat. Then put the cast iron dish out of the oven, and transfer bread into it.
  14. Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the bread, cover, and put it into the oven.
  15. After 10 minutes of baking, reduce heat to 230°C and bake for another 10 minutes.
  16. Uncover, and inspect the crust! If it still looks a bit pale, leave it in the oven uncovered for a few more minutes.

Notes

If you do not have a cast iron dish, you can try making rosemary bread on an ordinary baking tray, but it will end up drier. Let the rosemary bread chill for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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