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All About Bread - Rosemary & Olives


If you enjoy the recipes on our blog, then you've probably noticed that I absolutely LOVE soups. Actually, love isn't a strong enough word... I am literally a soup-addict! And I noticed that in every one of my soup recipes, I suggest serving each bowl with a nice, big hunk of sourdough or rosemary bread on the side.


So today, I thought I'd share with you my favorite recipe for making homemade "soup bread." It's crusty, savory, easy, and truly delicious! Sure, you can always stop to pick up a loaf of fresh-baked bread from your grocery store's bakery. But as easy as this recipe is, you'll be happily baking your own fresh bread every weekend -- AND with your own, fresh ingredients!


The best part about this recipe is that you can change up the add-ins to create your own masterpiece, or simply make some basic vegan bread without the extras! How about substituting some sugar, cinnamon and raisins? Or perhaps try a combo of thyme, basil and oregano. Walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes... the possibilities are endless! So what are you waiting for? Let's sprinkle some flour on the counter and get mixing!


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups unbleached flour

  • 1-1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 packet (or 2-1/4 tsp) active dry yeast

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1-1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F or 43 degrees C - use a meat thermometer to check) Add-ins - (Use your imagination!)

  • 1 cup Kalamata olives -- pitted and chopped into halves and quarters

  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped (may use crushed dried rosemary if needed)

  • 1/2 tsp thyme

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt and yeast. Mix it all together and form a "well" in the middle.

  2. Pour in the hot water and add the oil. (Be sure to measure the temp of your water - it needs to be hot.)

  3. With a wooden spoon, "pull" the flour into the liquid until it's absorbed.

  4. Sprinkle some flour on your hands and begin working the dough into a ball.

  5. Sprinkle more flour onto your kitchen counter, butcher block or a large cutting board.

  6. Place the dough onto the floured surface, and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be tacky, but if it's too sticky to work with, sprinkle it with more flour. Knead until the dough has an elastic texture.

  7. Rinse and grease your large mixing bowl, and place the dough back into it. Cover it lightly with a damp cloth.

  8. Turn your oven on, and place the bowl ON THE STOVE ABOVE where it will stay warm and undisturbed.* Let the dough rest until it doubles in size (usually about 1 to 1-1/2 hours).

  9. Re-flour your kneading surface, and turn the dough back onto the surface. Punch it down and flatten it slightly.

  10. Add the olives, rosemary, thyme and garlic powder to the dough, and fold it over onto itself, kneading to work out air bubbles and combine the ingredients into the dough.

  11. Divide the dough in half, and form 2 round loaves. Place each loaf on a lightly oiled pan. Place an empty metal pan on the bottom rack of your oven.*

  12. Preheat the oven to 375F, and let the dough rise for 30 more minutes.

  13. With a sharp knife, lightly draw a crossed "X" across the tops to score each loaf.

  14. Carefully pour 1/2 cup of water into the hot metal pan on the bottom rack of the oven and leave it in place.**

  15. Bake the loaves on the center rack for 15 minutes WITH the pan of water in the oven. After the first 15 minutes, carefully remove the pan of hot water, and continue baking the loaves for another 20 minutes or until crusts are golden brown.

  16. Remove bread from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before slicing.


Notes:

  1. *I've found that placing your dough onto a warm surface helps it rise better. I like to turn on my oven, keeping the door closed, and just place the bowl on top of the stove where it's nice, warm and undisturbed.

  2. **For bread to rise best while in the oven, the loaf needs to be able to expand and stretch. Steam from the hot water pan in the oven, during the first minutes of baking, helps to ensure the bread "skin" stays pliable and stretchy. It also will give your bread a nice crusty shell, which is perfect for eating with soups or dipping in flavored oils.

Enjoy!





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