Jane's Delicious Garden Blog


Easy Peasy Rosemary Bread

Posted in Garden Diary by Administrator on the December 13th, 2010

This recipe was originally in Jane’s Delicious Kitchen but had to be left out due to space limitations – but so many people have asked me for it, so here it is.

I grew up eating fresh-from-the-oven crusty home-baked bread every day. I remember the smell of the yeast and helping Mom knead the dough until it magically turned from a sticky mass into a springy and elastic ball.

I also remember that the dough was temperamental and being careful not to bump the hot tray because the bread was rising. So I was somewhat sceptical when I read about a method of making yeast bread that involved no kneading, no mollycoddling and claimed to only take 5 minutes a day to prepare. I ordered the book and set about making my first loaf.

It was the best bread I have ever made. And the greatest part? I could make enough dough for at least 4 loaves and leave it in the fridge to use during the week.

So no more kneading, fussing over and punching dough around – here is the quickest and easiest bread recipe ever. My recipe is adapted from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François Thomas (Dunne Books, 2007).

Ingredients

3 cups lukewarm water
1½ tablespoons yeast
1½ tablespoons salt
6½ cups cake flour*, plus more for dusting the dough
fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
cornflour
1 cup hot water for the oven

*This is not a mistake – even though this is a bread recipe, cake flour is used because the dough is very wet and bread flour would have too high a gluten content.

Pour the water into a 5 litre food grade plastic container (I use an ice cream container). Add the yeast and salt and mix it together.

Add the flour and mix it in using a wooden spoon and stir quickly until there are no dry patches. The dough should be quite wet and conform to the shape of the container.

If necessary add a little more water. Place the lid on top but don’t seal it.

Leave it to rise until it reaches the top of the container. (The time will vary; when I make this in Johannesburg, it takes a couple of hours but down at the coast it takes longer.)


Once it has risen, you can either bake a loaf immediately or cover it loosely and put it in the fridge to use later. The dough will keep for about a week.

Using a baking stone really helps the bread to develop a crisp crust. If you don’t have one, use a flat baking sheet. When ready to bake, sprinkle some corn flour on a thin wooden chopping board (or if you happen to have a pizza peel – use that) and set it aside.
Using a flour shaker, sprinkle a little cake flour over the surface of the dough. This will prevent it sticking to your hand.

Sink your hand into the dough and grab a big handful – about the size of a grapefruit. Pull this out and cut off the trailing dough with a serrated knife.

Keeping the floured surface in the palm of your hand, turn the dough 3 to 4 times and with each turn, pull and stretch the floured dough up around the sticky dough.




Once you have reached where you started, turn it over and give it a final stretch and shaping. The top should be smooth and the bottom a little lumpy.

Place the lumpy side onto the floured wooden board and leave it to rest for 40 minutes. Cover the rest of the dough loosely and put it back in the fridge.

Depending on the size of your pizza stone, you can bake three or four loaves at the same time. Repeat the process above for each one.

About 20 minutes before baking, place a small roasting pan deep enough to hold a cup of water, on the bottom shelf of the oven. Place a baking stone (or a flat baking tray) on the middle rack. Heat the oven to 240° C. (Yes – it really does need to be that hot.) When the oven is ready, pour one cup of hot water into the roasting pan on the bottom shelf. (This adds steam to the oven, creating a crispy crust.)

Sprinkle the shaped loaf with cake flour and use a serrated knife to make criss-cross slashes in the top.

Sprinkle rosemary into the slashes.

Very quickly open the oven and, using a spatula to help lift it, slide the dough onto the stone.

Bake the loaf until well browned, about 30 to 45 minutes. If you want an especially crusty loaf, use a spritzer bottle to spray water onto the top and sides of the oven a couple of times during the final 5 to 7 minutes of baking.

Remove from the oven and turn onto a rack to cool. Resist cutting it before it is completely cool, as this will just squash the bread.