This bread began as a shortcut to the dutch oven bread concept.
So many days I find myself thinking a nice fresh bread would round out our dinner table. You know, satisfy the kids' appetite in a way unlike greens and proteins. Trouble is I usually think that the very day I want it served. Advance preparation for that 12-16 hour slow-rise method isn't always realistic in my meal planning.
Since the pre-heated enclosure in the dutch oven approach is responsible for creating the desired crust and crumb, it seemed logical that using that technique with any recipe might yield a similar (maybe passable?) artisian effect.
The first test was with a basic 'first loaf' recipe from Clayton's Complete Book of Breads, using a combination of whole wheat and unbleached bread flour. Crunchy crust and caramel color were pretty good. As I often find with my whole wheats the dough was a little dry, but the bread was good, if dense.
Next, I modified the same recipe (quite enough to comfortably share it here as a unique treatment) with an even better result than I could hope for. My kids' favorite home-baked bread to date, it combines the sweetness of cornmeal with the piney fragrance of fresh rosemary.
I need not have scored the top, as the dough expanded too much to recognize the markings, however it trapped some of the cornmeal inside the bread while baking which contributed to its rich color and texture.
If ever I can break my pattern of always baking something new, I'll serve this one again. Please let me know if you try this and if you develop any helpful advice or variations.
Crusty rosemary bread
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
- 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
- 3 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbl. fresh chopped rosemary (if using dry use half the amount)
- 4 cups bread flour (I used King Arthur brand) + extra for kneading
- cornmeal for crusting
Whisk together water and yeast; let stand about 10 min. Add to a stand mixer bowl with all other ingredients and pulse slowly with a bread hook until all are well combined and the dough begins to pull away from the bowl forming a mass around the hook. The dough should be rather moist. Knead by hand on a well-floured board until smooth, but still tender beneath the floured exterior. Cover in an oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until rising substantially; doubled in size.
Turn out dough onto a surface dusted with cornmeal. Gently fold over while dredging. Place dough on a clean towel also dusted in cornmeal to prevent sticking. Fold towel over the top and let rise for an hour. Pre-heat oven to 425; pre-heat the dutch oven casserole dish as well. I didn't pre-heat the lid, for ease of the next step. Unwrap and turn dough out into the pre-heated dutch oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove cover and bake 10 more minutes to brown the crust.