We lived in Germany for a little over 3 years. It was a dream come true for me and I still miss our little German Village. It was tiny. So tiny, it did not even have a bakery. Most Germans make a stop by the bakery every couple of days for fresh bread. We had a bread truck come through on Tuesdays and everybody went out when they heard the horn to get their fresh loaf. The truck had a big door that opened the whole side of the truck. It opened up into this wonderful little mobile bakery. All sorts of beautiful loaves in different shapes and sizes.
I knew I would not be able to get this kind of bread when we moved back to the states, so while we lived there, I learned to make European style bread. I was able to compare my loaves to the ones I had there. I was inspired to use different types of seeds, herbs and flours. I started out with recipes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Once I figured out the feel of the dough and gained some confidence, I progressed to more traditional bread making methods.
I am not a fan of American style bread. I don’t care for the cake like structure. I like a slightly chewy texture with a crisp crust. My basic recipe now is based on Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake (of The Great British Baking Show) basic white loaf. Once you learn one or two basic recipes then you can modify them here and there and make them your own. A good European style loaf has only 4 ingredients. Flour, water, salt and yeast. Hollywood’s includes butter but I prefer the extra chewiness without it.
This Rosemary Bread uses Hollywood’s basic technique where you just mix your yeast and salt in with the flour. This method hasn’t failed me yet. I write this recipe exactly how I make it here at about 6500 feet above sea level. I include adjustments for baking at a lower altitude. The big difference is that this high you need about 20% less yeast. At a higher altitude, the dough will rise much quicker and that, my friends is the enemy of good flavor. So, reducing the yeast slows the rise a bit. I also use cool water rather than luke warm to slow the process as well. I usually add a couple more tablespoons additional water because it’s so dry here. As I note in my Pizza Dough recipe, err on the side of a wetter dough rather than dry. The bread will be less dense.
I use King Arthur Bread Flour. I swear by it. It is tested for consistency and has a higher protein level.
I also prefer to measure my dry ingredients by weight. It is far more accurate than using measuring cups. I love my little Salter Kitchen Scale I think it’s easier too. So measure/weigh your ingredients. I used fresh rosemary but you can use dry. Just break it up and use a bit less.
Dump 400g (3 cups) flour into a mixing bowl. Make a little well on one side for your salt and another on the other side for the yeast. Sprinkle in 1 heaping tbsp fresh rosemary. Now pour in 250 ml (1 cup) of water. With open fingers, use your hand to mix. I have made bread using just the dough hook on my mixer and it doesn’t work as well. Keep picking up the remaining flour from the side of the bowl with your hand. Add a bit more water as needed, until all the flour is incorporated. That’s the third picture.
You should have a shaggy ball of dough. Now your ready to convert to the dough hook on your electric mixer or to knead by hand. Using a mixer, kneading should take about four minutes. If you knead by hand, it will take about 10 minutes. If you choose to knead by hand, coat your hands lightly with olive oil rather than using extra flour to keep the dough from sticking.
These last two pictures are meant to show when the dough is “silky” and “smooth”. That’s when you’re done kneading.
Now form the dough into a nice ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough once to coat it with the oil. Place some plastic wrap over the bowl and then a towel. Note the size of the ball. When it’s doubled in size you’re ready for the next step. It should take about an hour to an hour and a half for this to happen.
This is where the culinary magic happens. I love to see the transformation of the dough.
Now, let it double in size again. It should take about an hour.
Remove the loaf from the bag and slice it like this or with three diagonal slices using a serrated knife about 1/4 inch deep. Dust the top with a bit of flour if you like for looks.
Place into a 450° preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes. My Breville makes it perfectly
Artisan Rosemary Bread
Basic white bread with the added earthiness of rosemary. Perfect for sandwiches, along side a hearty soup or toast with a twist in the morning.
- 400 g White Bread Flour plus extra for dusting or 3 cups
- 8 g salt 1 heaping tsp
- 5 to 7 g active dry yeast or 1 tsp to 1 1/3 tsp use higher amount for lower altitudes
- 1 heaping tbsp fresh rosemary or 1 level tbsp dried rosemary cut up into small bits
- 250 ml cool water plus up to 2 tbsp as needed or 1 cup
- olive oil for kneading
Place flour in mixing bowl of mixer. Make two small wells on either side of bowl. Add the salt on one side and the yeast on the other. Sprinkle in the rosemary. Add the 250 ml or 1 cup of water all at once.
With open fingers, use your hand to combine. Scrape the flour from the sides of the bowl. Add water a little at a time until all the flour is picked up and the mixture has formed a soft, shaggy dough.
Place mixing bowl onto mixer fixed with a dough hook. Knead with dough hook for about 4 minutes until dough is smooth and silky. If kneading by hand, use olive oil rather than flour to keep the dough from sticking. Start by tipping dough onto board. Coat your hands lightly with olive oil. Knead for about 10 minutes until dough feels soft and silky.
Lightly oil a medium size bowl. Place dough ball into bowl and turn once to coat dough with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and then a tea towel.
Place bowl in a draft free area and allow dough to double in size. This should take about and hour but it could take 2 or 3.
Once the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a board or countertop. Using lightly oiled hands, knock out all the air from the dough. Fold it over itself in thirds. Tuck the sides under to form a long or round loaf.
Place loaf seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet in a large plastic bag. I use one from the produce department of the grocery store. Tuck bag under the baking sheet to make the bag airtight but allow room on top for dough to rise. Allow dough to double in size a second time. This should take about 1 hour but could take up to 2. Lower altitudes will take longer to rise.
Preheat oven to 450° (230°C) about 10 minutes before you are ready to bake your bread.
Once dough has doubled in size, remove from bag. If you like, slash loaf down the middle or horizontally about 1/4 inch deep with a serrated knife. Dust lightly with flour and place preheated oven
Bake 30 minutes or until bread is cooked through. The loaf should sound hollow when you tap it.
Cool on a wire rack.
If you prefer to cook this bread in a lightly greased tin, place shaped dough into a 8.5x4.5x2.5 inch tin (1 kg loaf tin) for second rise. Bake at 425°F or 220°C for 30 minutes.
If cooking with a convection oven, reduce heat according to your oven's specifications. In my Breville I bake at 205°C Fan.
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