Mmmmmmmm…..bread…..Hot, steamy, yeasty smelling hot from the oven bread. The only aroma that might be more seductive than this is the scent of chocolate chip cookies baking. Can I get an amen? Even the most processed of all breads (White Wonder Bread) still smells enticingly delicious when it’s baking in the oven. But what about once it’s not in the oven any more and it’s cooled to room temperature? Does it still taste as good as it smells?
Craig and I are a rare breed, it seems (just hold your thoughts on that for a second), when it comes to the world of bread. We don’t hit the bread basket hard at a restaurant, in fact we usually don’t touch anything in it unless it’s some kind of specialty baked bread of the restaurant. You’ll hardly ever find a loaf of bread in our house, unless we’re having a party and it’s been sliced up for appetizers. Most of the time bread is just meh, and I’m definitely of the opinion that if something isn’t very good, why waste the calories on it. But then there’s homemade bread.
Last year I made a no knead bread that’s really stuck with me ever since. Yes, there are quite a few no knead bread recipes out there, but this is the one I tried and have used time and time again with the greatest success. While you might think making your own bread is so hard that it requires a machine to do it. You would be wrong about that. That’s what’s so great about these no knead recipes…it eliminates the “hard” part, the kneading. This easy homemade bread recipe is pretty much all about mixing, forgetting and baking…and you’ve got a stellar loaf of bread.
I was part of the Share Our Strength Bake Sale that occurred last Saturday (May 14th) and thought about all of those sweet treats that would be available. But when you look at a bakery, lots of times you’ll see some savory treats along side those sweets as well as some beautiful loaves of bread. So I thought, why not make some easy homemade bread that someone could take home and would enjoy not only because it didn’t cost them the $7 it would have, had they got it from a bakery, but also smells and tastes amazing? Hence, the roasted garlic and rosemary bread loaves.
Roasted garlic and rosemary bread is something that a local grocer used to carry around here. One of my girlfriend’s got me hooked on it, but my local outlet of that grocer didn’t carry it. It’s times like these that cause us to get resourceful. So in making this easy homemade bread I not only saved myself from the heartache of availability, but I saved myself about $6 a loaf. (It only costs a few cents per loaf to make this yourself.)
Do me a favor (and in return you’ll be doing yourself a favor) and make this bread. I guarantee you that your friends and family will thank you as will your taste buds. And don’t feel like you need to stop with the garlic and rosemary. Adding a little cracked black pepper to this will amp up the flavor even more. But you could also add different things to this bread. You’ll see in my older post that I added Manchego cheese and dried apricots, but you could also add things like chopped mozzarella and some cooked up pancetta pieces. Go wild! Oh, and feel free to mix in some whole wheat flour in place of all the white flour if you like.
What seems like just yesterday you were a chic, enchanting, witty woman able to snap a guys neck just by walking into the room in your 6″ stilettos. What the hell happened to you? Marriage has sapped you of your perkiness, your zest for life, and – much to your spouse’s dismay – your will to wear pants that are held in place by anything but elastic or a drawstring. You wonder, where that woman disappeared to. You can probably find her on Twitter or Facebook hiding behind a photo that looks deliciously mysterious yet causes most to believe that she is hiding the fact that she let herself go and is embarrassed to show anything more than a swoop of hair over her forehead and one well made up eye.
Why does the event of marriage cause women to let themselves morph into something that they swore they would never do once they got married? Does their marriage give them so much comfort that they feel they have nothing to aspire to anymore with their spouse? Do they feel that they can take their “mask” off now that their spouse knows the “real” them? When the divorce rate, in the US, is greater than 50% is it rational to feel so comfortable that you don’t need to try to be appealing to your spouse anymore?
Yes, I’m only covering the superficial matters in this discussion, and I understand that there are many more areas to cover. But I have seen so many of my contemporaries that have fallen into this sloppy comfort zone after they were married that I am stunned by the commonality of it.
I get it. We’re all busy and sometimes other things take priority over hitting the gym, eating healthy and spending money on clothes. But it’s important to take time for yourself.
As with most things in marriage, it’s a two way street. Has he done the same thing? Is the shower something he only steps into Monday through Friday? Is his idea of the basic food groups: pizza, potato chips, beef jerky and beer? Maybe it’s time for both of you to take a step back and get re-connected to one another.
Recipe: Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Bread
- 3 Cups Lukewarm Water (more water needed for cooking)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast (roughly 2 packets)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 6 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 14 Cloves of Garlic (roasted and roughly chopped)
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary (finely chopped)
- Cornmeal (for dusting)
- In a large mixing bowl mix water, yeast and salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. You’ll see a foamy substance on top of the water. If you don’t see any foam, your yeast is old and you’ll need to start over with some fresh yeast.
- Add all of the flour, garlic and rosemary to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. I used a long handled wooden spoon to thoroughly combine the flour. You only need to mix the flour until you don’t see any more flour streaks running through the dough. If you are having trouble combining all of the flour, you can add more water (a tablespoon at a time) and keep stirring.
- Leave the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with a non-terry cloth towel (terry cloth will stick to the risen dough and leave icky bits in it). Set the bowl in a place that is warm and not drafty. Let dough rise roughly 2 hours.
- Cover your hands, lightly, in flour. Take 1/4 of the bread and pull edges under, to the bottom of the dough so that you have a smooth dome. Repeat with remaining dough. Sprinkle cornmeal on cutting board and put the four dough domes on board.
- Let dough rest for 40-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Farenheit.
- Place a pizza stone, cast iron skillet or sheet pan on the middle rack of your oven. On a lower rack place a broiler pan or half sheet pan (you’ll be adding water to this pan so make sure the pan has sides on it).
- Lightly dust the top of each loaf and slash the top 1/4″ deep.
- Place a loaf (or loaves) on the pizza stone or skillet. Pour 1 cup of hot water into broiler pan/half sheet pan and quickly close the oven door, so that the steam stays in the oven.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until top is nicely golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool.
The way I’ve written this recipe, it will make 4 6″ loaves. But you can make it into pretty much any quantity you would like. If you make several small rolls from it, you may need to reduce the cooking time slightly.
For the roasted garlic, I simply tossed the peeled cloves into a small pot and covered them with olive oil. I turned the heat to medium low and cooked them until they started to turn a light golden brown (they will fry a bit in the oil). Once lightly browned I removed them from the oil to cool. The benefit of doing it this way gives you a great garlic olive oil that can be used in salad dressings or for other cooking. However, you can also do the traditional oven roasting of the garlic as well.
The variations on this recipe are pretty endless. Let your imagination run wild.
Preparation time: 120 Minutes
Cooking time: 40 Minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: USA (General)