Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kitchen Victories: Rosemary Crusty Bread

Okay, so this is the recipe that made me realize I was really asking too much for anyone reading my other blog (which doesn't exactly have a theme, but is definitely not a food blog) to keep indulging me posting about food. If I'm gonna keep posting about food, might as well start a food blog, right?  I've been so inspired by some incredible food blogging ladies like Annie of Annie's Eats, Christy of The Girl Who Ate Everything, and Shawnda of Confections of a Foodie Bride that I feel like I just want to add to the conversation about great food. Indulge me and have a look at this beautiful bread.



I never, ever thought I could or would make a bread like this in my own kitchen. I've come a long way as a home cook since the early days of my marriage when I made a list of things I knew how to make (It went something like this: 1. Omelets, 2. Burritos, 3. Fish Sticks.) But as time has passed and I've expanded my repertoire, I've realized that cooking is one small, relatively safe area of my life in which I can consistently try new things, and therefore progressively conquer little fears. As someone who is always trying to shake the specter of fear and anxiety from my life, this gives me confidence. My little kitchen victories--learning to use the broiler, cooking with jalapeƱos, finally buying and using a food processor--remind me that the best way to fight a fear is to face it. Same is the case with yeast breads--one of those things I have long had an irrational fear of making. Not like I thought it was going to morph into a menacing, drooling dough monster…more just like I thought I would screw it up. Bread is something you buy from the grocery store, where the bakery elves have made it magically appear, not something normal people make on their countertops. There's all that rising time, the mysterious and somewhat nasty foaminess of the yeast, and then what are you supposed to bake it in? 

Well, luckily, in the case of cooking, all you really usually have to do is follow the recipe. (If only everything else in life were so clear-cut!) I found this delightfully simple recipe after deciding to bust through my yeast bread angst by hunkering down and making some. And what do you know? It turned out awesome, rather like the pre-meal bread you get at Carrabba's or Macaroni Grill. I've made it three times now, and this last time I added rosemary for a different flavor. Take that, yeast angst!

What are some of your kitchen victories--things you've been afraid to cook but went ahead and tried anyway? How did they turn out?

Rosemary Crusty Bread
(Adapted from Simply So Good)

Ingredients:
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast, and rosemary.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours.  (Overnight works great.) Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.  

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