For reasons that escape me,  that might just justify seeking professional help, I bought another cookbook.   Worse yet, it was another bread book.  Considering that my present situation is far from optimal for bread baking, I wonder if even the best therapists are good enough to help me.  However, in my defense,   Carol Field’s  “The Italian Baker” is wonderful!   It covers breads from all over the country, always with some background information on their origins and detailed instructions on their preparation, using manual kneading, a mixer, or the food processor.   The book doesn’t have photos, just simple drawings.  In another cookbook this approach might bother me, but in this case I don’t mind being without pictures, because the richness of the text compensates for their absence. Carol’s descriptions make me want to bake every recipe in her book – which includes almost 100 breads!

(adapted from Carol Field)

2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
4.5 T olive oil
1.5 to 2 T fresh rosemary leaves, chopped fine (or 3/4 T dried)
10 g salt
450 g all purpose flour
1 tsp coarse sea salt for sprinkling over the bread

Mix the warm water with the yeast in a large bowl, wait for a few minutes until it gets bubbly. Stir the milk and oil with the paddle blade. Add the rosemary leaves, flour, and salt to the bowl. Mix gently until the flour is moistened, change to the dough hook and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Remove the dough and knead by hand for a couple of minutes.

Place the dough inside an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1.5 hours. Carefully remove from the bowl, shape into a ball, and let it rise for 45 to 55 minutes, but don’t allow it to double in size.

As you wait for the final rise, heat the oven to 450F. Slash the bread with a razor blade forming an asterisk on top, then sprinkle coarse salt inside the cuts. Bake 10 minutes with steam, reduce the oven temperature to 400F and bake for 35 minutes more. Remove the bread to a rack to cool, and don’t cut it for at least one hour.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Carol says this is one of her favorite breads because its simple preparation allows her to have it at the table almost at the spur of the moment.  Although you could make it with dry rosemary, I urge you to use fresh, and go for the maximum amount recommended.  The flavor is not at all overpowering, and the pleasant hint of rosemary  makes this bread a good match for many types of sandwiches.  We enjoyed it in sandwiches of thinly sliced flank steak, grilled medium rare, and didn’t even add any cheese.   But of course, a little burrata on top and a quick run under the broiler will satisfy your most hedonistic inclinations.

The detail of sprinkling coarse salt in the slashes is pure genius!  Every once in a while you get this extra punch of  flavor, as the salt enhances the herbal tone of the bread.  Perfect.

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

ONE YEAR AGO: A Classic Roast Chicken (the most popular post in the Bewitching Kitchen, recipe from Ad Hoc)

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