Friday, September 30, 2011

Artisan Herb & Olive Bread

So I finally attempted at baking my own "artisan bread" from scratch! It didn't turn out looking as pretty as I wanted, and I did have a little trouble following the recipe, but things turned out okay! Actually, it was a big hit in our home :)

(Ignore the onion please!)

The recipe is a "modified" version of the "Sensational  Herbed Bread" in the Forks over Knives book. It wasn't my intention to modify it, but circumstances ended up leading me to it, and also that "free cooking spirit" came in, and I had an urge to add some kalamata olives to it-which I didn't have-so I ended up making a trip to the store. So glad I did!

So the recipe calls for 3 cups of whole wheat flour, BUT I only had about 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour left (which shows you how good I've been at switching to whole wheat cooking :) and a bag full of unbleached all purpose flour (you see!? ;)  and since my "urge" for the kalamatas only came after the dough was already made, I had to do half and half! 

So here it is! 1 1/2 cups of Whole Wheat Flour and 1 1/2 cups of Unbleached (please!) All Purpose Flour

Then I couldn't take any more pictures because my hands were a big sticky mess!!! 

But basically next step after adding 3 cups of flour is that you mix in the herbs. 
  • 1/2 Tbsp sage
  • 1/2 Tbsp thyme
  • 1/2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp basil

I just added a little more of the thyme & basil, because I thought they smelled SO GOOD! Then you just mix it all up!

Next comes adding the liquids and mixing it...or "kneading" I should say. 

First I had to deal with the yeast! The recipe called for 1 1/2 tsp of dry yeast, which asks to mix with the dry ingredients (flour & herbs). But I've had enough "mixed information" about this to get confused.  I'm not sure what the right/best way to do is. I've heard recipes where they ask to first dissolve the yeast with a little bit of water, then add to the flour, and others that says to make a well and then add the yeast at the center with all the liquids, and now this new way: just mix it with the flour! I was totally confused! Since last time I baked a pizza dough I had done the "add it to the well" approach and the crust didn't turn out great, I decided to dissolve in the water this time and see what happens. So that's how I did it! If anyone knows the best way to do it, PLEASE tell me! :)

As for the wet ingredients, you'll need:
  • 2 Tsp of molasses
  • 1 3/4 c lukewarm water
And this is the messy & sticky part! I had no clue what to do with so much stickiness....I mean, it said to "knead" it, so I put my hands in trusting that I would be able to knead something! But the thing was so gooey and sticky that it was impossible to knead anything! So I started adding more and more flour until I was at least able to knead somewhat. I think I may have added a whole extra 1/2 cup to 1 cup! Seriously! Not sure if this damaged the bread and made it denser than it was meant to be. But I just don't understand how one can knead that thing otherwise :-/ I'm new to this whole thing! 

So eventually it looked like a bread dough, and I let it rest in a warm place as the recipe called for. And that's no other place than my yard right now. Here in NC is still warm and humid, although I'm sure it will change any day now.

Recipe called for an hour rest covered with oiled plastic wrap, until it doubled its size. Oh...and it's important to add the cornmeal underneath it so it won't stick to the cooking sheet.

This is when I finished "kneading" it. Looked decent!

Between caring for my 10 month old, and household stuff I ended up letting it sit much longer than called for. Then I had that "urge", so I still had to go to the store.

About 4 1/2 hours later, this is how it looked like! Then I sliced the olives and added on top, then folded the dough on top of the olives, thus why the cornmeal on top (not intentional!). 

 Finally I decided to slice some garlic and brush with some olive oil for taste.

Looked more attractive in the "before" part than after...but looks are overrated anyways, and this was OH SO TASTY!!!

The amazing thing about this bread is that it tasted great for days! It seemed to taste even better the next day, because the garlic flavor seemed to spread to the rest of the bread. It was soft, chewy, and rich! It was really delicious! We loved it straight out of the oven with some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. We ended up eating half of it in one sitting for dinner! The intention was to be an appetizer, but we couldn't stop eating it. Then we realized if we didn't stop we were going to eat the entire bread, so we closed it in a big ziplock bag! 

We've had this a few weeks ago, and my husband is already asking me for some more :)

Thanks Forks over Knives! 

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