Saturday, December 29, 2007

Recipe: Rosemary Bread (Ψωμί με Δενδρολίβανο)

Tissy gave us a wonderful loaf of homemade bread for Christmas. It made me remember how tasty homemade bread can be, and how infrequently I’ve been baking of late.

I’ve gone through periods where I baked all our bread. Since local stores started carrying high-quality, artisan-style bread, I’ve been baking less and less. We finished Tissy’s bread yesterday, so today I decided to follow her example and bake my own.

My sister’s holiday present was a cookbook from Le Pain Quotidien, a Belgian bakery and restaurant that has stores in 12 countries around the world. The bread from Le Pain Quotidien is reported to be extremely good, so I wanted to make it.

I turned to the recipe for Le Pain Quotidien’s signature loaf, sourdough wheat bread, and read the recipe. It called for sourdough starter which, unfortunately, takes 11 days to make. This was not the loaf I would be baking today.

I used to make rosemary bread quite often, but haven’t done so in years. It goes together quickly, is always full of flavor, and would be an ideal accompaniment to the squash soup I was planning for lunch. Rosemary bread it would be.

As I described in an earlier post, we brought our herbs – including rosemary – in from the garden this year. When I cut off two branches to use in the bread, the smell was intoxicating; the aroma of freshly picked rosemary is much richer than that of herbs in plastic boxes from the supermarket produce section.

When I cut into the bread after it came out of the oven, I could tell by the smell that it would be delicious. It was.

Rosemary Bread (Ψωμί με Δενδρολίβανο)
Makes one large loaf

I prefer using a baking stone when I make bread as it helps my home oven maintain an even temperature and gives bread a crisper crust. I also have an old baking sheet with edges that I use when I make bread. I preheat the baking sheet and baking stone for at least 30 minutes at 500°F. I turn the heat down to 450°F when I put the bread in to bake. Just before I close the oven, I dump a cup of water into the baking sheet and quickly shut the door. (Do not throw water directly on the oven floor or it will warp. Trust me, I know this from experience.) The water creates steam which prevents the bread from quickly forming a hard surface, thus allowing the bread to rise to its fullest extent. The water cooks off quickly, and leaves a hot, dry oven which, together with the baking stone, helps ensure a crispy crust.

2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp. honey
2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast (1 packet)
2 Tbsp. minced rosemary
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups semolina flour
2 – 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Coarse salt

In a large bowl, mix the warm water and honey. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit for 10 minutes, or until the yeast begins to foam. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or by hand with a wooden spoon), mix in the rosemary, salt, olive oil, and semolina flour. Let sit for 10 minutes (this is necessary to properly hydrate the semolina).

Start mixing in the all-purpose flour. When the dough starts clumping together, switch to the dough hook (or to kneading by hand), and keep adding all-purpose flour until you have a moist, but not quite sticky, dough. Flour a board or counter, dump out the dough, and knead in the remaining flour as needed to make a smooth, soft dough.

Let the dough rise for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch down the dough, shape into a large round loaf, place on a parchment-paper-lined rimless baking sheet, and let rise until the loaf has almost doubled in size. (You can also rise the bread directly on a wooden peel sprinkled with semolina flour or corn meal.)

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut an asterisk in the center of the loaf with a razor blade or extremely sharp knife. Brush lightly with water and sprinkle with coarse salt. (If you have a baking stone, slide the bread - and parchment paper if using - from the baking sheet or wooden peel onto the stone.) Bake for 15 minutes. Without removing the bread from the oven, turn the heat down to 325°F and bake for an additional 20 - 25 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool, cut, and serve.

Note: My recipe Chicken in Rosemary Bread uses this bread, and stuffs it with a chicken, prosciutto, and herb filling. Chicken in Rosemary Bread makes a showy company meal, or lovely, portable, hold-in-your-hand chicken sandwiches.

This is my entry for this month’s Grow Your Own hosted by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes. Andrea's round-up of recipes is here.


Riana Lagarde said...

great idea! i have mounds and mounds of rosemary that i trimmed for chrismtas time, i used it and laurel branches instead of pine boughs for decoration. your bread's color is so lovely.

i have an old piece of marble, do you think that would be a good bread stone? is it made of granite?


Laurie Constantino said...

Hi Riana, my baking "stone" is actually made out of clay. The main thing is that the substance you use has to be able to withstand high temperatures for an extended period of time which marble should be able to do. It's also important that the marble not have a surface treatment that includes substances that are harmful to human health. I recently saw a show on Food TV where the presenter recommended using quarry tiles instead of a baking stone. I've never done it myself, so I have no idea if it would work. You should definitely put all that rosemary to work!

desie said...

beautiful-looking bread. great tip, too, about the cup of water. i will try it the next time i make bread.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh! I've got to try this. But first I have to find semolina flour. If I can't find it, can I omit it? And substitute with more all purpose flour?


Anonymous said...

semolina is available even in my obscure neck of the woods. No worries for you though, you can order some online at

(I'm not affiliated with them or Amazon, BTW.)

Here's a link to substitution; but I can't vouch for it as I've never done that... too incompetent in baking to risk it:

Peter M said...

I love rosemary in bread...and dipping it in olive oil!

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you! I'll look for the flour and also check out the link for the substitution. Appreciate it very much!


Laurie Constantino said...

Maybahay, Happy New Year! The water trick definitely works.

Hi Paz, you should be able to easily find semolina flour in NYC. In large supermarkets, you can generally find it in the bulk bins. But if you can't find it, yes, you can definitely make the bread only with allpurpose flour. The taste and texture will be slightly different, but it will still be delicious bread!

Peter, the only thing better than rosemary bread dipped in olive oil is rosemary bread dipped in garlic olive oil. YUM!

pam said...

That is some beautiful bread!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Laurie. I'll be sure to look for it this week. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Hi Laurie, I love to make rosemary bread and whatever does not get eaten right away I make yummy crackers out of. Slice it thin, drizzle with olive oil, season with garlic/salt combo and herbs if desired. They are lovely and loved by all. Also, you have created a happy monster with your Dutch Baby recipe. I'm anonymous that wrote about how much I liked it. My husband requests it daily and last night had me make 2 of them for some friends of his. thank you so much. I have a couple other of your recipes I have my eye on, will let you know how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

I forgot the part of baking it in a hot oven (400 degrees) on a baking stone with parchment paper to help clean up. cook until golden and turn over a for a few minutes on the other side.

Laurie Constantino said...

Hi Jeri, thanks for the suggestion about what to do with leftover rosemary bread, it sounds very tasty. So glad to hear about your success with Dutch Babies, and I'd love to hear how anything else you make turns out. Thanks for coming by and Happy New Year!

Gretchen Noelle said...

This sounds just delicious! I bet the semolina gives it a wonderful texture. I will be trying this come 2008. Happy New Year!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

Rosemary is one of my favorites, and we are lucky enough to be able to grow it year round here.
I haven't baked my own bread in year... it is way to tempting. I can resist store bought bread =D

Andrea said...

Your rosemary bread looks so perfect with the design cut into the top. I'll definitely have to try this one! Thanks for another wonderful entry for Grow Your Own! Happy New Year!

Laurie Constantino said...

Gretchen, that is exactly what the semolina does, gives great texture, plus it adds flavor and great color to the bread.

Sandi, I understand completely - I'm much the same way, especially shortly after the bread comes out of the oven when it is still warm and fragrant.

Andrea, I hope you like it! And Grow Your Own is a wonderfully inspiring event - thanks!!

Cris said...

Love rosemary, my mother-in-law has a huge plant in her garden. Your bread looks wonderful, and I noticed you use semolina a lot, which I haven't done so far, I need to try sometime, I'm adding semolina to my shopping list!

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