Sometimes I wonder if the library has a wall mounted with photos of their most notorious card holders. Members who have been caught repeatedly doing things “against the rules,” like eating, drinking or talking. (Clearly one of the greatest institutions must be worse than prison.)
If there were such a wall, I’m almost positive my photo would be up there for “most fines accrued.” When I check out a book it’s pretty much guaranteed it’ll be returned overdue.
I don’t know why
laziness I can’t get books back to the public library on time, but as of late the circulation desk staff have started asking, “Another one?” when they spot me rounding the corner. It’s kind of like when the baristas at Starbucks see you coming through the door and start making your drink.
But with shame.
This bread however
is something to be proud of.
This bread would bring back books to the library on time. This bread wouldn’t be recognized by the staff at the circulation desk because of fees. This bread is good. Quite good.
Studded with woodsy herbs, a lovely salted crust that it pulls apart with ease, it just begs to be dipped into a bowl of hearty soup. And when you come back from the library after paying your shame fees, you can find some comfort by tucking into some of that savory warmth.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Makes 1 Loaf of Bread
A stand mixer with a dough hook (you could use your hands, but it’ll just take longer)
A small saucepan
A large mixing bowl (used twice)
A flat surface to knead dough on (a cutting board will suffice)
A dutch oven or a heavy large pot (must be oven safe at 450F)
A sharp knife
One and a quarter cups of warm water (about 110F)
Two and a quarter teaspoons of active dry yeast
A pinch of sugar
Quarter cup of butter (like Earth Balance), melted (you can always omit the butter and replace it with an equal amount of water)
Half a tablespoon of dried thyme
Half a tablespoon of dried rosemary
2 cups of white whole wheat flour
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten
One and a half teaspoons of fine sea salt
An additional 1 teaspoon of olive oil (to coat the large mixing bowl)
An extra handful of flour (optional, to knead with)
An additional 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided (to coat dutch oven/pot and loaf)
A big pinch of coarse sea salt (optional)
Pour the warm water into the standing mixer bowl. Add the yeast an a pinch of sugar. Swish the ingredients around gently. Set the mixture aside for about 5 minutes. The mixture should foam and froth after 5 minutes. If not, chuck it into the bin and start over with new yeast. If it’s ok, start melting the butter.
Add the butter to a small saucepan and place over a burner on low heat. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from heat and add the herbs. Swish together to combine and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour(s), vital wheat gluten (if using) and salt. Whisk the ingredients together till combined.
Add the flour to the yeast mixture. Pour the butter mixture on top.
Knead the ingredients together, using your standing mixer with the dough hook, on low speed for about 10 to 12 minutes. (Be sure to ‘lock’ your mixer down.)
The dough ball should be smooth, supple and not sticky when ready. During the mixing, the dough ball will actually clean off the sides of the bowl. If the dough ball is still wet and there’s plenty of flour left on the sides of the bowl, it’s not ready.
Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a large mixing bowl (the one you used before to mix the flours will be fine). Smear it around with your hand to coat the whole bowl, then place the dough ball inside . Cover it the bowl plastic wrap and allow it to rest in a warm, non-drafty spot for about an hour. It should double in size during this time.
For me, it takes about 30 minutes for my oven to preheat to 450F. Thirty minutes after the dough has been set aside to rise, I place the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450F. Preheat your oven to 450F accordingly.
When the dough has doubled in size, remove the dough ball from the bowl and place on a flat surface to knead. I find my wood cutting board works just fine with no need for flour. However, throw some flour down if you’d like.
Knead the dough by hand for about 2 minutes.
Add half a tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom of the dutch oven. Place the dough ball into that oil puddle.
With a sharp knife, slash a deep cross into the dough. Drizzle the second half a tablespoon on top of the dough ball. Sprinkle the dough with coarse sea salt (if using).
Place the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid carefully (be cautious of any steam), reduce the heat to 400F and bake the bread uncovered for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the dutch oven and allow the bread to cool inside. Serve at room temperature. Or hot, but be careful when trying to remove it from the pan the dutch oven will be quite hot to touch.