A friend of my sister commented that my blog was about carboliciousness. I do admit, I am a carbs gal. I like rice, love pasta/noodles and could not live without breads. Living in Boston means having access to all sorts of hip, cool, funky bakeries that make fresh, delicious breads --both quick and yeast-- any time! But there is something particularly satisfying about making bread from scratch.
My mother introduced me to the art of making bread. To build my confidence, she started me on quick breads. At the age of 6, I was not yet ready to deal with the ins and outs of dissolving yeast in warm water, kneading the dough just enough, waiting for it to rise, punching it down, only to let it rise again, etc. But by the time I was 10 or so, it was time for me to learn. I loved watching Mommy make yeast bread. She had a big oven-proof brown bowl that she used to let the bread rise. She would oil it with Wesson oil, put the beautifully kneaded dough in it, turn it upside down, cover it with one of her many 100% cotton tea towels (Mommy believed only in natural fibers, even for her tea towels!), and let it rise inside the top oven (turned off). The only experience that was better than learning to make yeast bread with Mommy was eating the end-product -- especially with butter and a shmear of one of our homemade jams or preserves.
Making yeast bread does take time. It's great fun to do on a rainy weekend day when you don't feel like going outside. Or when you're having guests for dinner. Homemade yeast bread makes the meal a little more special than normal. And let's face it -- filling up the house with the scent of fresh-baked bread is pretty cool!
There are two yeast bread recipes that I have made frequently. They have something in common -- fresh rosemary!! One is a recipe for garlic and rosemary cloverleaf rolls (which freeze well, by the way). The roasted garlic really makes these rolls come alive. The other is for walnut and rosemary loaves. How can you beat that combination-- walnuts and fresh rosemary? You can't! I enjoy eating a slice (or two . . . ) with soup. I also use it for sandwiches.
Garlic and Rosemary Cloverleaf Rolls
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 roll)
1 whole garlic head
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm 2% reduced-fat milk (100° to 110°)
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350°.
Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool slightly. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.
Dissolve yeast in milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add garlic pulp. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons butter, sugar, salt, egg, and rosemary; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Add 2 cups flour, and beat until smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Punch dough down. Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Divide each portion into 3 pieces, and shape each piece into a ball. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray; place 3 dough balls in each muffin cup. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Uncover dough, and brush tops with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until browned. Remove from pans; serve warm.
Walnut and Rosemary Loaves
Yield: 2 loaves, 12 servings per loaf (serving size: 1 slice)
2 cups warm 1% low-fat milk (100° to 110°)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon 1% low-fat milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add yeast, stirring with a whisk; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour to yeast mixture, stirring with a whisk. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 15 minutes.
Add 2 1/2 cups flour, walnuts, rosemary, and 1 egg, stirring with a whisk. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes), adding enough of remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Lightly press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)
Preheat oven to 400°.
Punch dough down; turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half, shaping each portion into a round. Place loaves on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Combine 1 tablespoon milk and 1 egg, stirring with a whisk; brush over loaves. Make 3 diagonal cuts 1/4-inch deep across top of each loaf using a sharp knife.
Place loaves in oven; reduce oven temperature to 375°, and bake 40 minutes or until bottom of each loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Let stand 20 minutes before slicing.