Friday, May 6, 2011

Bloomin' Herb Bread

I absolutely adore baking homemade bread. The smell that fills your house is incredible and the taste of the bread itself is unbeatable. Yes, anything yeasted does require a bit of work and some patience when you have the time to be so...but, man is it worth it! I saw this bread on the pioneer woman's blog and thought it looked so different and delicious! And it certainly was. I made a few additions to the directions however, since it wasn't all that clear as far as how long to let the dough rise and such. Also, it isn't necessary to add herbs. I left them out because my husband has a tendency to be picky and the bread was still fantastic. Of course, if I had it my way I would have loooved to have added the herbs, but oh well. I didn't want to end up having a whole loaf of bread to eat by myself... because I would have. The crumb of this bread is so tender and moist. And because of the way you cut into it before baking, there are these beautiful layers of dough created when it bakes. You can just peel layers of dough off your slice or chunk (however you decide to cut into it), kind of like peeling off layers of a biscuit to eat... except it's bread. Just as good, if not better than peeled biscuit layers! It really is a delicious recipe and the measurement of flour by weight is key. I can't stress enough to all of you how important having a kitchen scale is. Outside of my stand mixer, it is my most important kitchen tool I have. Weighing the flour makes it easy for the dough to come together, you don't have to do the tedious "add more flour as needed" while the dough is being kneaded. And don't be like me and worry about the dough deflating once it has risen completely and you go to cut the X into it- it is dense enough to take it with out damaging all the work you've done. Thank goodness for that! And thank goodness for this ammmmazing bread!

You know what goes great with this bread? My home butter...

Bloomin' Herb Bread
Yield: 1 Loaf

20 oz, by weight, bread flour
8 fluid oz water, 110-115 degrees F
4 oz unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp salt
1 tsp active or instant dry yeast (let active dissolve in water with a tiny pinch of sugar for a few minutes before adding)
Chopped herbs of choice (chives, rosemary or thyme are great choices)

1.) Combine all ingredients together in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium-low speed for about 10 minutes or until you can successfully achieve a windowpane with dough (see this link if you are unfamiliar with the method).

2.) Form into a ball and place in an oiled bowl with clean towel to cover the top. Let dough rise for 1-2 hrs or until about doubled. Knead dough with hands to redistribute yeast. Form into ball and place in a well greased cast iron pot, coat bread with olive oil and let rise until doubled again- 1 to 2 hrs or until a finger indent in dough does not spring back.

3.) While the dough is rising, have the oven preheated to 450 degrees F. When the dough is ready to bake, cut a deep 'X' into the dough and brush with more olive oil. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes with cover on pot. Take cover off pot and bake an additional 15-30 minutes or until well browned (if desired, drizzle with olive oil again and sprinkle with kosher salt before putting it back in the oven). Be careful, depending on where the heat source of your oven is, the bottom may burn a bit. If it is too dark at the end, just use a serrated knife and cut off the bottom.


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