Country Rosemary Bread
A “country bread” refers to the simplicity of the ingredients and the shaping of the loaf. Rustic breads typically requiring a “Biga” starter to develop the flavor and need several risings. Country Rosemary Bread has a crisp, crunchy exterior and an airy interior with a soft crumb. I love the flavor of the fresh rosemary. This loaf makes a phenomenal base for sandwiches – grilled cheese being my personal favorite.In a bowl, stir together and allow to proof for 5 minutes: 1 ½ tsp. Active Dry Yeast pinch of Sugar 1/2 cup Warm Water (NOT HOT)
Add to proofed yeast and stir to form a ball (since this is not soft like a sponge and is stiff, it is called a Biga): 1 cup Bread Flour
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 3 hours.After 3 hours of proofing the above “Biga” add the above to the bowl: 1-2/3 cup Bread Flour 1/2 cup Warm Water 1-1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt 1 Tabl. Olive Oil 2 Tabl. Fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
Using the dough hook, mix on low speed to form a ball (this is the pick-up stage). Continue mixing on medium speed 5 minutes longer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in warm, draft-free place for 1-1/2 hours.
Punch the dough down, fold it over towards the center and then over once again. Place the dough on the counter and pull it towards you and repeat this until it forms a nice ball . Cover again and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place a baking dish (I used my broiler pan) on the bottom of the oven and allow to pre-heat with the oven.
After the dough has doubled, using a sharp knife carefully cut the top in a hatch pattern. Immediately before baking, brush (or spray) the loaf with water and toss the ice cubes (I used icicles that were hanging off my roof) into the baking dish onto the oven bottom to create steam (This is going to make a nice crust, so it is important). Bake for 15 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes more, until golden brown. Resist the urge to cut while hot – it’ll be worth the wait!