Rosemary and Olive Bread

I love rosemary; it makes me think of Rosemary Clooney torch songs and It’s a Wonderful Life, for some reason, in particular, this famous exchange:

George Bailey: What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.

Mary: I’ll take it. Then what?

George Bailey: Well, then you can swallow it, and it’ll all dissolve, see… and the moonbeams would shoot out of your fingers and your toes and the ends of your hair… am I talking too much?

When I am cooking with Rosemary, it might as well be spring. And this loaf might as well be a dissolving moon. Dissolving in my mouth, that is—we’ll see if it shoots out my fingers and toes. I know there is a man in the moon, but a bulldog? Izzy claims there is one.

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Olive and Rosemary Bread
From Baking Illustrated

Sponge

  • 1/2 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 cup water, at room temperature
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour

Dough

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface, hands, and dough
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves (1/8 cup dried)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  1. For the sponge: stir the yeast into the water in a medium bowl until dissolved. Mix in the flours to create a stiff, wet dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight.
  2. For the dough: mix the sponge, flour, water, honey, and rosemary until smooth, about 15 minutes, adding the salt in the last 3 minutes. Add more water as needed – the dough should be smooth but sticky.
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead in the chopped olives until incorporated. Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let double until tripled in size, at least 2 hours.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and dust dough with flour. Lightly press the dough into a round and transfer the dough, smooth side down, to a baking sheet. Let rise for another hour.
  5. While dough is rising, set oven to 450F. Place a small baking pan, filled halfway with water, on the lowest rack.
  6. Once dough has risen, cut a large X into the top of the dough. Bake at 450F for 30 to 40 minutes. Bread will be dark brown and a thermometer inserted into it will register 210F.
  7. Store bread at room temperature and reheat at 450F.

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So very tasty, 5 stars. The weird moon crater pattern in the flour dust is from the bowl in which I let it rise—a plastic colander with circular holes. Where the recipe said to let the dough rise 45 minutes, I stretched it into several hours thanks to the languor of Lincoln (during which I fell asleep for 30 minutes and grievously offended the history buff stranger to my right in the theater). I was happy to come home and rouse my attention with the scent of fresh olives and rosemary. Sprinkling the sea salt into the X is key.

3 thoughts on “Rosemary and Olive Bread

    1. Thanks and nice to meet you Evelyn. Yes, I can’t believe I have come as far as I have on my news year’s resolution– I usually quit by January, but I have loved the community support through this blog that I had not expected at all. I will now recommend to my patients that all life changes should be blog-documented. There is a whole wide world of cheerleaders, isn’t there?

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