Well, I had one of those last week. I finished a piece of a project, and I was SO excited. That is, until I realized I had no idea what to do next. And that's a pretty horrible feeling when all you want is to finish your PhD and get a doggie, like me!
On weeks like these, I self-medicate with carbs. For some reason, carbs help my psyche better than most anything else. I've been known to eat toast for dessert, even.
If I'm eating a lot of bread, you know I'm baking a lot of bread. I made a decision not too long ago to become a master bread maker (yeah - I was SUPER naive about that!), and it's been an uphill battle for me! But I'm glad to say I haven't bought a loaf of bread in... about 6 months now! I even baked all the bread for our wedding :)
I'll say it now and I'll say it again : there is NOTHING better than producing a loaf that looks gorge, and tastes better than your favorite bakery's. Ok, so maybe I'm overstating a bit with the taste, but it's damn close!
So here's my newest bread loaf love. It makes a totally delicious bread, and is super easy to do. No starters or poolish needed (I always end up with moldy starters, so I tend not to use them, but I'm going to try again soon much to my hubby's chagrin!).
Tip : to make a pretty top, after your loaves have risen, spritz with water and sift flour onto the loaf before cutting with a very sharp knife. You'll end up with a stunning bread!
Rosemary olive oil crusty bread
makes two loafs
● 2 cups warm tap water, about 110 degrees
● 1/4 cup olive oil
● 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
● 3 cups all-purpose flour
● 2 cups whole wheat flour
● 1/3 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
● 2 tsp. salt
To make the dough, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and allow to sit for a couple of minutes. Whisk to mix, and add olive oil. Don't worry about mixing that in, it won't work. I tried.
Add flours (reserve 0.5C of the white flour), salt, and rosemary into the bowl of a stand mixer (or just a big bowl if kneading by hand) fitted with dough hook. Start mixer on low. Slowly add in the liquids, and once they are all in, turn off mixer and allow the dough to sit for a few minutes. This allows the flour to absorb the water and become hydrated. It allows you to be able to decide if it needs more water if too dry, or more flour (hence the reserved half cup - but don't add it too quickly! one Tbsp at a time is the best) if too wet.
Turn on the mixer and knead dough for 5 minutes, until smooth and springy. Put in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap or proofing container (read : large tupperware with vertical sides) and turn to oil the top. Allow to rise at room temperature until doubled.
Turn out dough onto lightly floured, punch down, and cut in half. Form half of the dough into a ball, stretching taut and form a little outie belly button on the bottom. You should have a very smooth ball other than the bump on the bottom. Let sit for 5 minutes to rest while you work on the other half.
Work the ball of dough outward, rolling under hands, until you have formed a loaf. Taper at the ends. Dust top with a little flour and cover with a towel. Rise until doubled again (don't worry - the second time is always quicker!).
About half an hour after shaping your loaves, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. I use a baking stone, or a set of baking tiles, but this would work well with a baking sheet with parchment paper as well. Just make sure if you use a baking sheet, you have a couple more sheets underneath so your bottom doesn't burn! Allow the oven to heat up for at least half an hour.
Once your beautiful loaves are doubled, spritz with water and sift flour on top before cutting 3-4 slices across the top with a super sharp knife (or a razor you stole from your husband, as is often the case with me!). Carefully lift the loaves, one at a time, and place on preheated surface in the oven. Spray the inside of the oven well with water, and toss in a hand full of ice cubes to aid in crust formation. Turn your heat down to 450 and bake for 20 minutes.
Peak at your beautiful loaves as you add some more ice cubes, and turn heat down to 350 for another 20 minutes, or until the top sounds hollow when you tap it.
People always say to let the loaf cool, because you risk having it collapse when the steam escapes, but I always risk it. There's literally nothing better in the world when you're having a crappy week than topping your steaming hot bread slice with butter.
I say go for it :)