Making bread is another thing I’ve always wanted to try but never got around to. I don’t love bread, but it tastes like a completely different food when it is fresh out of the oven. Baking bread in the kitchen is also another way to make the entire house smell amazing. It is a long process, which is part of the reason I’d never gotten around to trying it. Also, my mom has a horror story of the time when she tried to make baguette and ended up with loaves resembling baseball bats; she forgot to put the yeast in, but still, I didn’t want to put that much effort into something that could go so wrong! With most recipes, you can salvage at least part of it if you mess up.
But yesterday I sucked it up, started in the morning, and gave it an attempt. It was a bit spontaneous—I came with the idea ten minutes before I left for the supermarket to go buy some yeast. I didn’t want to make just plain white bread or sandwich bread, so I settled on a rosemary olive bread recipe. I really hate olives plain, but baked into bread they don’t taste nearly as strongly. The taste of rosemary is great at masking the olive flavor also. I usually enjoy playing around with amounts and ingredients in recipes, but I followed this one very closely to avoid ending up with a rosemary-flavored rock. I even sifted the flour, I step I almost always skip in baking recipes.
The first step of bread making is very easy—simply mixing flour, yeast, salt, and warm water and letting it rise in a warmed oven. Even so, I spent most of the day with my fingers crossed, hoping that it would be successful. When I came back and checked 4 hours later, I was ecstatic to discover that so far everything was going according to plan. I really had no idea what to expect, which is not a feeling I often have in the kitchen.
The rosemary and olives were added in next and then the dough was shaped into a loaf. It sat for about thirty minutes while the oven warmed up. As I put the bread in the oven to cook for 30 minutes, I went back to praying that nothing would happen to it. The kitchen started to smell delicious. Thirty minutes later, success again! It was supposed to bake for another 15 minutes with the top of the bread pot off, but I photographed it in this stage as a precaution. Turns out, it was unnecessary, and my bread came out looking perfectly browned. We had a big family dinner with cousins and grandparents, and the bread got excellent reviews. It was perfectly seasoned and crusty on the outside but soft on the inside. I let it cool before dinner but didn’t slice it until right before serving, so it was still steaming when I cut into it.
Here is the official recipe, which I found here. Easy and delicious!
Rosemary Olive Bread
3 cups flour (I bought bread flour, but all-purpose flour should work just fine)
2 tsp salt
1 ½ cups warm water
½ tsp active dry yeast
½ cup kalamata olives, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary (I used fresh, but the recipe I found uses dried)
Sea salt flakes and some more chopped rosemary for sprinkling
Turn oven onto the lowest setting, let it warm up for ten minutes, then shut it off and keep the door closed. Sift flour in a large bowl that can sit in a warmed oven. Add the salt and yeast and mix well. Then, slowly add the warm water and mix so that the dough is sticky—use either a spoon or your hands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the oven for at least three hours (I left mine in for about six).
When the dough has risen to twice the size, remove from the oven. Turn it up to 450F and place a Dutch oven with a lid inside. I didn’t have a Dutch oven, so I used a ceramic pot. The important thing is that it has a lid; ceramic works best also because it won’t burn the bottom of your loaf.
Add the olives and most of the rosemary to the bread and mix well. Use your hands and shape into a loaf form on a floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap for thirty minutes while the oven is still heating up.
After thirty minutes, remove the pot/Dutch oven and place the unwrapped loaf inside. Sprinkle on some chopped rosemary and sea salt flakes. Put the lid on and bake for thirty minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another fifteen to brown the top (I checked mine about every two minutes during this step to make sure it wasn’t getting burnt…). Remove and let cool before serving.
I baked this at my cousins’ house, right after one of my cousins had baked brownies. A great snack to eat while waiting for bread! I had just run stadiums for 40 minutes, so I think I earned a brownie. She had baked a marshmallows inside. I have her permission to post a picture and share her recipe here. Maybe she’ll be a guest poster in the future!