Rosemary Dinner Bread

I have a confession to make. I was actually planning on posting a recipe for vegan zucchini muffins but sadly, they turned out looking more like lovely little blobs of zucchini mush instead of fluffy muffins. Exhibit A:
Thankfully, I’ve been meaning to share this rosemary bread recipe with you for awhile and now seemed liked the perfect opportunity. It tastes exactly like the bread you might be served before dinner at your favourite restaurant. Soft and chewy, and flavoured with rosemary, Italian seasoning, and black pepper, this bread provides a nice change of pace from your everyday white bread. It tastes great hot out of the oven or at room temperature, and will keep well wrapped for 2-3 days.
You start by proofing your yeast in warm water and sugar. This is basically to make sure that your yeast is still active, so if you don’t see any foam at the top, it’s probably time to buy some new yeast.

After your yeast is ready, you can add the rest of the ingredients. When you add the rosemary try crushing it with your fingers a bit as this will release some of the flavour and aromatics that get locked into it when it’s dried.

Mix until the dough forms a rough ball, there may be flour that hasn’t completely incorporated but that’s ok, once you start kneading it will form a more cohesive, smooth, ball of dough.
Set the dough aside, and let it rise for about 45-60 minutes until it’s doubled in size. For the first rise I used the oven method described in the directions.
Punch the dough down, form into a ball, and then place on a baking sheet to let rise one more time.  For the second rise, I used a big bowl of hot water and then put the baking sheet right on top. The steam from the hot water provided an excellent environment for the dough to rise.
Bake in a hot oven and voila! Homemade bread that will make you feel like you’re eating in a restaurant and impress everyone you serve it to.
Rosemary Dinner Bread

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water (100-110 F)
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbsp of olive oil
1 1/2 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 1/2 cup bread flour (plus more for kneading)
Sea Salt (for sprinkling on top)

Directions:
Pour warm water into a large bowl, sprinkle with yeast and sugar and give a quick stir. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until you can visibly see the yeast starting to foam.

Stir in olive oil, Italian seasoning, black pepper, rosemary (crushing with fingers as you sprinkle it in), salt, and 2 cups of bread flour. Mix until dough starts to form a ball. It may look like a scraggly mess, and there may be flour still unincorporated, but don’t worry it will all come together as you knead. If the dough is still too wet and sticky, add the last 1/2 cup of flour.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface (I use the kitchen counter) and slowly start to work the dough together by kneading it. Add extra flour sparingly. You want to form a dough that is soft, smooth, and pliable, and that shouldn’t stick to your fingers or hands at all (about 8-10 minutes). Form into a ball.

Spray the bowl the dough was in with non-stick spray and then place the dough back into it and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size (45-60 minutes). I created a warm environment by placing a large bowl of hot on the bottom of the oven, and then placing the bowl with the dough in it on a shelf above it.

Once dough has doubled, gently press it down, and give it a couple minutes to rest. Shape into a ball, or whatever shaped loaf you’d like. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray, cover, and let rise again until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Once the dough has risen, sprinkle coarse salt on top if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.
  
(Adapted from Allrecipes Family Favourites)
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