It’s been a busy but productive day in the kitchen laboratory as I’ve been going through some of my old recipes and converting them to organic, healthier and dairy free. It’s funny, looking at my cookbook makes me realize how long it’s been since I’ve made bread. Clearly it’s been a few years, a task abandoned sometime around the time I became a new mom. Well, it’s just like a bike, right? The moment that the yeast begins to activate, it’s a straight shot to nostalgia.
Today I tackled an old rosemary bread-machine recipe that I liked well enough to save but not well enough to make more than once. It had white refined sugar, dried rosemary (sacrilege, imo) and it was tougher than I liked. I decided to go through and give it a facelift, and opted for honey, fresh rosemary, and substituted a portion of the bread flour as all purpose.
Bread flour, AKA strong flour in Canada and the UK, has more of the protein gluten than all purpose flour and a lot more gluten than cake flour (soft flour). The more the gluten, the stiffer that the elasticity of the dough is. Ultimately, the amount of gluten in bread is responsible for the firmness and texture. Bread flour creates a strong protein network that traps CO2 from the fermenting yeast, and is frequently used to create a crustier loaf with a porous-looking inside (see picture here). Now this is a bit of an oversimplification, as there are several other factors that will also affect how dense your bread is, including the length of time fermented, number of rises, and the type of flour you are using. There are some instances where you may find you need to even ADD gluten to produce a proper loaf, such as when using rye. But this is why, to some extent, they ought not to be *completely* substituted for one another. The less gluten, the softer, denser, and flatter the loaf.
Also! –and probably more importantly for someone like me who is kneading by hand, the more gluten there is, the more difficult to knead. My arms cry mercy while kneading 100% pure bread flour, so I swapped out a little of the bread flour for AP.
My son inhaled his test piece, so the revision gets two chipmunk cheeks up. So here you have my non-bread-machine, revised recipe made with fresh rosemary right out of the garden.
Serve it with warm with extra virgin olive oil or whipped butter and cracked pepper.
- 1 cup warm water (~115F)
- 1.5 tsp of active yeast
- 1.5 tsp honey
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1.5 cups bread flour
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh, minced rosemary
- .25 tsp fresh, coarse cracked pepper
- .25 tsp Italian seasoning
Mix the warm water, honey, yeast, and a spoonful or two of the all purpose flour together in a bowl. Allow yeast to proof for 10-15 minutes until foamy on top. If yeast shows no sign of activity, stop here, check your water temperature and yeast culture, and start over.
While yeast proofs, mix the olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl and measure out your other flours. Begin by mixing the oil and herb mixture into the yeast, and then gradually add flour, stirring in until the flour is mostly absorbed and the dough begins to pull away from the bowl.
Turn out the dough and knead on a cookie sheet with lightly floured hands for about 8-10 minutes. The dough will form a velvety smooth ball and will no longer be sticky. Coat your rising bowl with more extra virgin olive oil, rest the dough inside, and turn over to coat. Cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm area for 1 hour.
Punch down dough and reform into a oval, loaf shape on a cookie sheet. Cover again and allow a second rising of 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 375 until golden brown (approx 30-35 min). Tent with foil if you find it is getting too brown and the inside is yet undone.
Top with coarse salt and more olive oil, if desired.