Like everyone else, I spent the month of December glutting and rutting around the world of all things sweet and rich. Buttery, sugary, creamy and chocolaty, we went whole hog down the dessert rabbit hole. Hog is the operative word here. Any more cookies and treats and I'd have to start looking for truffles on a leash. After a month of sweets I bounced into January craving savories, turnips, and bao, and mushroom soup. Yes there were some donuts in there, but hey, they were baked!! But still they were donuts and I needed to get back to the good and the simple and the pure. Normally, that means getting back to the usual Indian vegetarian and vegan dishes that I regularly cook, but then I ran across something that changed my mind completely and that was Abby Dodge's Bake Togther Project.
The Bake Together Project for the month of January was a Peasant Boule. A lovely homey and above all easy to make loaf of bread. This is not any old loaf of bread. This is special. This is the sort of loaf that calls out to one to "put some soup on, Honey. I'm home!" So what makes this bread so special?
- The Peasant Boule that Abby featured, is a bread that's made with "instant yeast" this is quick acting stuff that I'd never worked with before. This is yeast on steroids and it bulks up to a nice round puffy dough in no time, that is if you think 45 minutes is no time (I do!)
- The Peasant Boule is baked in an 8 inch cake pan (no special equipment here) almost everyone has one of those.
- The Peasant Boule is so versatile, anything (flavors, herbs, fruit, nuts) can be added to it, that there is virtually nothing one can do to it to mess it up.
As it turned out, I had the perfect opportunity. I'd recently come into possession of an electric pasta machine, I had cured some guanciale (Roman bacon) that I was dying to try in an A'matriciana sauce and I was planning on busting out my new Ricotta making skills. The handwriting was on the wall. I was roots bound, I was going back to my ancestral origins, I was going to cook an Italian dinner. The Peasant Boule was going on the menu. In making Abby's bread, I followed the Bake Together Rules, and I made my own adjustment to the recipe. I decided to make an Olive Oil Rosemary loaf. You might want to try this bread and #Baketogether too.
Here's What You Need:
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 packet instant yeast (Rapid Rise)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cups warm water (between 115 and 125 degrees)
3 Tbs of Olive Oil
1 Tbs of chopped fresh rosemary
The preparation of this bread calls for a stand mixer. I don't have one, but I do have a food processor with a dough blade and it worked just fine.
Here's What To Do:
In the bowl of a food processor mix together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder,rosemary and yeast.
Turn the food processor on and pour in the warm water. The water needs to be at least 115 degrees and no more then 125 for this yeast to work. I used a cooking thermometer and it worked just fine.
The dough will start to come together in the bowl and will quickly turn bread ready. Run the food processor for about 5 minutes or maybe a bit less. I started to get a little worried since it was really flying around and my processor was bouncing on the counter. I was afraid I'd burn the motor out, but no way. It worked!
Scoop the dough out and roll it into a ball, put the dough into a lightly greased bowl (I greased it with olive oil) smooth side up. Cover the top of the bowl tightly with saran wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until it doubles in size.
When it's doubled, dump it out on to a clean surface, (you don't have to flour it.)
Press it down to deflate it.
Shape it into a 7 inch round and place the whole thing in a lightly oiled 8 inch cake pan. Yes, that's right, nothing special, just a plain old cake pan. I rubbed the top of the dough with a bit of olive oil, and let it rise.
I didn't have an 8 inch cake pan. I had a 9 inch so my dough didn't get quite as tall as it might have.
Let the dough rest in the cake pan until it's doubled again, about 25 minutes or more. It all depends on the temperature in the room the dough is sitting in. About 15 minutes before you're ready to bake the bread, preheat the over to 375 degrees.
Put the bread on the middle rack in the oven and let it bake for about 40 minutes. When the bread turns brown on top and the top sounds hollow when tapped, it's done!
Place the pan of bread on a cooling rack. Take the bread out of the pan and set it on the rack to cool. I set mine down next to my newly made fresh pasta.
The peasant boule toasts like a dream and it's the perfect sandwich bread. It was the perfect accompaniment for an Italian meal, but after looking at all the various ways of interpreting this bread I can't wait to try some of the other ways that have been suggested. That is, if I'm allowed. I've already received orders from headquarters for more of this great rosemary bread. It seems it's pretty popular for chicken sandwiches with roasted red peppers around our house. I on the other hand, am itching to try it with figs, or olives or orange zest for a great brunch treat. Okay, I have to make a confession here. Visions of French Toast have already danced through my head, but I'm not saying anything about it right now.
Coming up next, I am no longer a pasta machine virgin as I present electric vermicelli bugaloo. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori