Due to a recent move, I have found myself without my usual bounteous herb garden, which is a truly sad thing. While the place we are renting in theOtherCity has a couple of tiny beds with a few herbs in them, it is pretty thin pickin's around here at the moment.
This, as you might imagine, throws a huge wrench in all of my plans for recipes that I was going to write about:
- Lovage? Nope.
- Thyme? Not really.
- Sage? Yes! But sadly, while aromatic, it's got thick leaves and isn't so tasty. (infusions perhaps...?)
- Basil? Laughter echoes from a back room.
- Bay? Amusingly enough, yes. There is a sweet bay 'tree' that has a dozen leaves on it. Maybe I can use one this winter.
- Mint? How can there be no mint?
- Rosemary? As I have said elsewhere, the three small rosemary plants are a saving grace.
Flickr set with additional pictures of shaping.
Ingredients | US volume | Metric volume | US weight | metric weight
water 1/2 cup | 115 ml | 4 ounces | 112 grams
bread flour 7/8 cup | 205 ml | 3 3/4 ounces | 105 grams
whole wheat flour 1/2 cup | 112 ml | 2 1/4 ounces | 62 grams
instant yeast 1/8 teaspoon | <1 ml | a pinch | seriously
water 1 cup | 235 ml | 8 ounces | 224 grams
whole wheat flour 1/2 cup | 115 ml | 2 1/4 ounces | 63 grams
bread flour 3 1/4 cup |765 ml | 14 1/2 ounces | 466 grams
instant yeast 1 teaspoon | 5 ml | 1/8 ounce | ~3 grams
olive oil 1/8 cup | 30 ml | 1 ounces | 28 grams
salt 1 tablespoon | 15 ml | 1/2 ounce | 15 grams
olive oil 3 tablespoons | 45 ml | 1 1/2 ounces | 42 grams
rosemary fresh, chopped 1 tablespoon | 15 ml
Notes: You can substitute almost any other savory herb for rosemary, although fresh herbs really do work best for this.
Mixing the starter
In mixing bowl, combine starter ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover and let rest on the counter for about two hours until it is very bubbly. (You can shorten this to ~20 minutes or wait as long as 4-5 hours. You can also refrigerate the starter for 24-48 hours after it bubbles.)
Mixing the dough
Add the water and whole wheat flour to the starter and stir to combine. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes so the flour can hydrate. Add the rest the dough ingredients except the salt and mix until everything is integrated. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Same recipes, different breadRoll the dough in flour and place it in a clean bowl. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour).
I think every baker needs a few never-fail recipes in their back pocket. Recipes that they can play with endlessly with a fair degree of certainty of success. This recipe is a variation of one of my standby recipes: a polish baguette from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice. If I had to pick just a few breads to bake all the time, this would be one of them. In its original form, it makes wonderful baguettes and is well suited to being shaped for specialty breads like epis. and I have been able to corrupt... err, vary it pretty endlessly over the years.
I have had success with up to ~60 percent whole wheat flour; I haven't tried more but my guess is that, with a bit of extra yeast and a pinch of gluten, this would work with almost (or entirely) whole wheat. 75 percent white whole wheat should be a breeze — and if I could find mine in the boxes stacked in the pantry, I'd have tried it. (Someone should do it and report back.)
If I want my bread to have a slightly more open crumb, I add a bit of additional water, but just a few teaspoons. The dough is forgiving and, once you have made it a few times, you can easily feel when its tolerances are being stretched.
In fact — confession time — I once made a double batch of this bread. Except I didn't double the yeast. And I tripled the oil. (don't ask, it was late, I was rushed and had no business driving a KitchenAid...) As I kneaded the dough, stumbling my way through a series of "this feels all wrong" corrections, I slowly figured out how badly I had screwed up. Ever the good food writer, I trudged on, determined to take photos for an article titled "How to waste two pounds of flour" that I would write someday. Except for one problem: the bread was fine. It wasn't great, but it was good. This recipe earned its place in my back pocket that day.
When the dough has doubled, turn it out on a lightly floured counter and flatten into a rectangle with your hands. Let the dough relax for a minute while you prepare a muffin tin by lightly rubbing each cup with olive oil.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x18 rectangle. If the dough starts resisting and springing back, let it rest for 5 minutes and then finish rolling.
Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with chopped rosemary.
Cut dough in half and lay one piece of dough on top of the other. Repeat this process once so that you have a single four-layer stack that's about 6x9 inches in size.
The shape of the stack of dough determines exactly how you cut the individual rolls. I usually cut the stack into thirds and then each of those pieces into four rolls. Like this. (It doesn't matters if one side is all uneven, like these outside edges, as long as you put a cut edge facing up in the muffin tin, this will work just fine.)
Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour. Bake in a preheated 425F/220C. Bake bread for 25 minutes or until golden brown (~195F/90C internal temperature). Cool rolls in pans for 10 minutes and then place on rack to finish cooling.