Monday, October 22, 2012

Rosemary Bread

This past weekend, I celebrated my birthday which isn't actually until Tuesday.  While caking on the make up and blowing my hair out to Texas beauty queen status, I thought to myself, "What do I have to offer my guests who will undoubtedly come bearing gifts of alcohol?"  I found my cupboards bare but my hands ready.  With just a few household ingredients, I was able to whip up a few batches of some deliciously fragrant rosemary bread using the rosemary bushes I got from the Yangjae Flower Market earlier this year.

The drunken masses were raving about this bread and ripping into the loaves like starved Confederates. Inebriated or no, this bread's appeal is unshakable.  Pillowy soft rosemary fluffs encased in a crunchy crust - It's what you dream Subway sandwich bread will taste like from the way their stores smell.  Best of all, it's a very simple recipe that gets easier each time.

Rosemary Bread
(Adapted from Jo's Rosemary Bread)
Makes about four small loaves
Total time: 2.5 hours

1 cup water, divided
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 or 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped fine
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant active dry yeast (a 4-7 gram packet of yeast)

Take 1/4 cup of lukewarm water and combine with the yeast to create the "sponge."  I like to sprinkle on a smidge of sugar over top so the yeast has something to nosh on as they wake up.  Wait 5-10 minutes until the surface is all frothy and beige, and it smells sharp and intensely bread-like.

While waiting for the yeast to activate, I like to prep my other ingredients.  If you're using fresh rosemary, remove the leaves by holding the top of the stem, pinching and sliding your fingers down.  In one full sweep, you'll have rosemary leaves and one naked rosemary stem.  Chop finely; no wants to pull out a long rosemary leaf from between their teeth.

Then combine the flour, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, and black pepper and whisk together.  Then add the remaining water, oil, and yeast mixture - it should be ready by now. First, I mix with a wooden spoon until a kind of dough forms.

Then I knead for a little bit until the dough forms a ball.  Add in the rosemary and knead like crazy until the dough is smooth and elastic - about 7-10 minutes.

Then coat in a wee bit of oil and leave in a covered bowl to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour until it's doubled in size.

Once it's doubled in size, punch it down and shape into loaves.  I like to divide mine into four pieces to make four small loaves since my oven is Barbie-sized.  I get even quadrants using this scrapey tool I got at Bangsan Market for 700 won.

Score the loaves with a very sharp knife if you'd like.  Let rise for another hour on a covered baking sheet.

After rising, stick in the oven at 425 degrees F (218 Celsius) for 25-30 minutes.

This cat...
Notes: The harder to get ingredients are yeast, Italian seasoning, and rosemary (fresh or dried).  Yeast is available at most grocery stores; you just have to look for it.  Italian seasoning and dried rosemary are sold in many stores in Itaewon and at all Homepluses.  Finally, I cover how to get fresh rosemary on my post about Yangjae Flower Market.

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