If I was on a deserted island and only could take with me one food item, it would be bread. I love it, I crave it, I dream about it straight out of the oven, still steaming, slathered in rich butter. Yum! I especially love French baguette and country style homemade loafs. Fortunately for me, my friend Caroline from Grow it Cook it Can it, has had the great idea of making it our February resolution project.
My mother in law had given me a book about breads a few years ago and for some reason I felt a little overwhelmed by the amazing bread recipes in it. I didn’t feel confident enough to tackle any of the recipes thinking… me? Make bread? How? Don’t you need a special oven, special flour, special everything? Turns out… not really. After tackling several other homemade projects including pizza dough and last month’s homemade pasta, I felt like bread couldn’t be that difficult anymore. In fact, it’s pretty easy and such a magical process to watch the yeast do it’s magic.
I decided to go through that great bread book and pick one that would be a little more challenging than just a regular white loaf. I found a recipe for Rosemary-Sage bread that sounded absolutely to die for. Now, I love fresh herbs but rosemary is my ultimate favorite so what can be better than rosemary scented bread? Not much I think.
The original recipe makes 4 loaves and includes goat cheese but I figured I would just make 1 loaf my first time (less depressing if you mess up one loaf and not 4), and since my husband hates goat cheese – a sad, sad thing – I omitted the cheese in my recipe.
This recipe is a basic loaf which is then filled with the rosemary-sage sauce and baked, so if you prefer other herbs, or prefer to just do one herb, you can adapt it to your particular preference.
Here it goes...
Basic white bread recipe (makes 1 loaf)
½ tablespoon of yeast
2 cups of warm milk
2 cups of warm half & half
¼ stick of butter, melted
1/8 cup of powdered sugar
4 cups of all purpose flour plus extra for dusting
1 ½ tablespoons of salt
1 tablespoon of water
In a large bowl (or measuring cup) dissolve the yeast in the milk and half & half. Let stand for 5 minutes or until the year is foamy. Add the butter and mix with a whisk. Add the powdered sugar and mix well to break any clumps.
In a large bowl mix the flour and the salt. Slowly add the liquid mixture to the flour and knead well. If the dough is too sticky keep sprinkling flour until your hands can work it without becoming a gooey mess.
Knead for about 4-7 minutes. Keep the dough moist for a soft, tender bread
Place the kneaded dough in a bowl generously sprayed with oil (or buttered if you prefer). Cover and leave in a dry warm place to rise for 1 hour.
In the meantime make the Rosemary-Sage sauce:
1 ½ tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ can (13.5oz can) of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped sage
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
pinch of salt
In a skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the olive oil, coconut milk, almond extract, lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir to mix well. Add the rosemary, sage and pepper. Bring to a boil.
Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes stirring frequently. Remove the sauce from the stove, pout into a bowl and let cool.
At this point your bread should have risen nicely.
NOTE 1: If it doesn’t seem to rise enough you can turn on the oven for 2 1 minute, turn it off again and place ot in the oven with the door open. This will get the dough a little warmer and help it rise better.
Now that your dough has risen place it on a floured surface. Roll it to form an 11”x9” rectangle so that the long side is perpendicular to your body.
Spread the Rosemary-Sage sauce evenly over the dough.
NOTE 2: I ended up not using all of the sauce because it looked a little too wet, instead I strained most of the herbs and spread those on the dough, leaving some to sprinkle on top as well.
Butter of spray a 9” loaf pan.
Tightly ( or as tightly as possible) roll the dough into a loaf, with the rolling action going away from your body. To hold most of the filling, fold the outer edges of the dough as you roll. This might get messy, but it’s all part of the fun.
I would have posted a picture of this if it hadn't been completely impossible to handle the camera while having gooey, wet doughy hands. Sorry.
Place the dough seem side down into the loaf pan. Place the an in a warm, dry place and allow the dough to rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 400º.
Beat together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Brush egg wash over the dough.
If you still have any sauce left, strain the herbs and spread them over the top of the bread.
Bake for approximately 1 hour.
Ovens vary so taste for doneness. Remove loaf from the pan and tap bottom. If it sounds hollow, it’s done. If not, continue to bake, checking every few minutes.
When loaf is done remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack or a wooden board.
Congratulations! You made bread!