Welcome to my kitchen

A while ago, I realized I was serious enough about bread baking to stop diddling around with the 3-packs of yeast from the grocery store, or even the small jars for a small fortune. So I pulled up my big girl pants, and ordered "A Pound Of Yeast". It's in my freezer, and I use it regularly, and I guess that makes me "A Baker". Even though I always said "I can't bake". So, join me on my journey, and let's see what that pound of yeast makes, and where we go next....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The "You Know You Love It" Rosemary-Olive Oil Bread From *THAT* Restaurant Chain

Even though I love the flavor of the so-called “artisan” breads that have long, slow, usually overnight rises or ferments, they don’t always fit into my schedule to make.  More realistically, (not to mention more truthfully….) I usually don’t get my act together in enough time to make them when I decide I want bread.  So I’m always on the lookout for bread recipes with a great taste, but that can be put together in a half-a-day or so.

A couple of months back, I found one of those type of recipes in, of all places, the “Food Network Magazine”.  Yes, I know.  The Food Network.  I’m ashamed to even type those words, because in other places out there in the cyber ‘scape, I’ve been one of the most vocal critics of the turn that FN’s programming has taken in the last five or so years.  I’m tired of watching other people eat, I want to watch people actually cook.  I *know* how to eat, and I’m pretty good at it.  Cooking tips, them I’m always in the market for.  I’m tired of challenge shows.  I’m tired of endless shots of whirring assembly lines, with admittedly cool machinery, churning out candy and potato chips.  I’m especially tired of watching people eat grossly huge amounts of food (lookin’ at you Guy Fieri).  I realize I’m not in FN’s demographic, nowhere near it.  But still…..

That said (and rant over), the “FN Magazine” is surprisingly very, very good.  I’ve got to give them props for it and credit where it’s due.  I got an issue as a freebie about a year ago, and liked it, so picked up a copy or three off the newsstands.  Liked them too, so I subscribed (see, I truly am a dinosaur….I subscribe to paper magazines !).

According to “FN Magazine”, this is a copy-cat recipe for a “famous Italian chain restaurant’s” rosemary-olive oil bread.  You know the chain….it has a “Grill” in the name, and a “Mac” on the front end.  While I think that the chain’s food quality has really declined in recent years (day-um, I’m cranky today aren’t I?  Or at least hyper-critical…sorry, I’ll go get another glass of wine and see if I can’t lighten up a bit), I do think that their bread is every bit as stellar as it was when they started out.

And this…?  This is a pretty damn good clone.  It certainly was, as they say, “close enough for government work”.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Since it’s a bread, we need flour and yeast obviously.  This also needs some sugar, some salt, some extra-virgin olive oil, and obviously rosemary.

After I assembled the members of this production, I realized that I had fresh rosemary in the fridge, and since fresh is usually always better than dried, I benched the bottle of dried rosemary and called in these guys as a last minute substitute:

Which I then proceeded to show my appreciation of by mincing the hell out of them:

Boy, fresh rosemary smells so good.

Stir together the yeast, sugar and some warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer, and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes.

Here’s before the rest:

…and after:

Note that I use instant yeast exclusively.  That’s what comes in the bulk packages I favor, and that seems to be the one most frequently recommended by the “experts”.  I have used active dry in the past, and haven’t found a difference in the performance.  Technically, for instant yeast, you don’t need to soak or “proof” or “bloom” it, but if the recipe is written that way, I usually still do.  It doesn’t hurt, and I’ve read/heard it may help to distribute the yeast.  Note, however, that if you use instant yeast when the recipe calls for active dry, you won’t see the bubbling or foaming the recipe will describe, and that you may be used to seeing.  Not to worry, you’ll still get a rise out of it.

Especially if you tell it a good joke (ohhhhhh, I slay me !).

Oh, and if you note in the ingredient's shot that the container of yeast (that’s it on the right, in the plastic jar with the bail-style clasp) looks like it has freezer condensation on it, that’s because it does.  I store that container in the door of the freezer.   You don’t need to thaw it before use, and it will stay fresh and active well past its expiration date.

OK, back to the process.  Dump the flour, some olive oil, and some of the minced rosemary into the bowl with the yeast and water.  Add some additional warm water, and bring it together to a nice, doughy state.  You know the drill by now, start with the dough hook slowly to mix, then when it comes together, knead the stuffing out of it (and the gluten INTO it) with the dough hook until it’s the beloved “smooth and elastic”.

You’ll frequently read recipes that use the term “the dough should clear the sides of the bowl”.  Here’s what that looks like.

Also note that, as per usual, since I seem to be incapable of retaining information I read in a recipe for more than a nanosecond, I mucked this up too.  Again, totally “recoverable from”.  For a fun parlor game, let’s try to count just how many grammatical atrocities I committed in that sentence !  In this instance, I blame the original recipe writer for my muck-up.  One of my pet peeves concerns “divided” use of ingredients.  Come on, people, how tough is it, if you’re writing a recipe where an ingredient gets used in more than one step to put the word “DIVIDED” in parenthesis after the ingredient’s name ?  Not very tough, really.  Just a head’s up that not all of the stuff goes in at once.  That’s all I’m askin’ for.  So, when I read through the entire recipe before starting, the fact that some olive oil is reserved for brushing the dough before baking slipped from my sieve-like brain, and evaporated.  So I ended up with twice as much olive oil in my dough as I should have had.  No problem that I could see.  As I said in a previous article, MOST kitchen muck-ups are not fatal.

Back to the bread, again.

Now we’re going to do the first rise.  Brush a clean bowl (or your handy dough doubler) with some additional olive oil, plop the dough into it, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it stand at room temp until more than doubled, about two hours.

Before the yeasty magic:

…and after all that lovely carbon dioxide action.

Prep a baking sheet or two (again, I cut the recipe in half, so my quantities will be smaller than referenced in the recipe, and I only used one sheet), by either brushing with olive oil, or as I did, by lining with parchment.

There’s my favorite skanky pan again.  And, have I mentioned how much of a miracle I think parchment paper is ?  That was another magic intervention that “made me a baker”.  Parchment paper rocks.

Flour your work surface, turn out the dough onto the flour and cut into two pieces with your bench knife.  A bench knife is much preferable to trying just to tear the dough with your hands, which damages that precious gluten.  We don’t want to hurt the gluten.  A regular knife would work as well, but isn't as helpful as a bench knife is for scraping the board, or releasing dough from it.

Get a sturdy bench knife.  You won't regret it.

And, don’t be like me.  Use your scale to make sure you get equal-sized lumps of dough.  Even here, you can see one is larger than the other, and it’s going to be even more obvious once they’ve had their second rise.  It’s that whole spatial/volume problem I have (see previous issues with sifting flour).

With one dough blob at a time, start forming into a small, round loaf by first folding the top and bottom of the dough in towards the middle.

Then fold in the sides to make sort of a square-ish shape, and pinch the edges together.  Using your bench knife, flip the dough over, seam side down, onto more flour, and start tucking in the corners to form the ball.  Actually, even with the extra oil, the dough wasn’t too difficult to work with, I didn’t need too much extra flour, and I could flip the dough just with my finger-tips.  As always when shaping a round loaf, cup your hands around the ball of dough, and use gentle pressure on the bottom, in towards the center of the ball.  This will help to create surface tension on the top, which helps develop the crust.

Et voila !  One larger and one noticeably smaller loaf of rosemary-olive oil bread.  Of course, those are both seam-side down, on the prep’d sheet.  Let the loaves stand, uncovered, until more than doubled, at least 2 hours.

And yeah, use a scale.  You’ll be happier for it.  After proofing, the size difference (did I mention you should use a scale?) is even more dramatic.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.  Bake the loaves for 10 minutes, then pull them and brush with the remaining (thanks for telling me that UPFRONT in the ingredients list, “FN Magazine”), and sprinkle with coarse salt and more minced rosemary.  You want to be sure that the surface of the dough is nice and slick with oil, since it will help the salt and rosemary adhere.  I’d suggest painting and sprinkling one, then the next, and so on.

Return to the oven, and bake until the beloved golden brown (and delicious), another 10 or so minutes.  Remove to a rack to cool, slice and serve with more olive oil, seasoned with pepper.

Here’s the quantities:

Rosemary-Olive Oil Bread from “that Italian ‘Grill’ chain”
Adapted from the April ’11 “Food Network Magazine”

Makes 4 small loaves

1, 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast (equivalent to 2&1/4 tsp.), or instant yeast
2 tsp. sugar
2 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving (divided use)
2&1/2C all purpose flour
2 tblsp. dried rosemary (divided use), or equivalent of fresh rosemary, minced (for 2 loaves, I used 2 sprigs in the dough, and another one to sprinkle)
1 tsp. fine salt
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper for serving

Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4C warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Let sit until yeast dissolves, or gets frothy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the flour, 1&1/2 tablespoons rosemary, the fine salt and 3/4C warm water.  Bring together with the dough hook on low, just until dough forms.  Increase the speed to medium-high, and knead with the hook for about 8 minutes.  Add a bit of additional flour if dough sticks to the bowl excessively.  The dough should be smooth and elastic.

Brush a large bowl with additional olive oil.  Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature until it more than doubles, about 2 hours.

Brush 2 baking sheets with oil, or line with parchment.  Generously flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto the flour.  Divide into 4 equal pieces with a bench knife.  Working with one piece at a time, sprinkle some additional flour on the board, and form each piece of dough into a ball.  Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheets, 2 loaves per sheet.

Let stand, uncovered, for at least another 2 hours, or until the loaves have more than doubled.

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Bake the bread 10 minutes, remove and brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle each, while the oil is wet, with the remaining rosemary and the kosher salt.  Return to the oven, and continue baking until the loaves are golden brown, about 10 more minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  Serve with additional olive oil, seasoned with ground black pepper, for dipping.

If it's bread (or made with yeast), the cool place to be is Yeastspotting !


  1. Love the story.

    So, how is TJ's flour (compared to the KA brand)?

  2. Hi Judy, thanks and welcome !

    I think they're pretty comparable. I haven't had any problems or failures using it, and I had with some other store brands of flour. Don't know about the "technical" stuff like protein content though.

  3. WOW! Thanks for this recipe and photos! My family declared this the best bread I have made (so far). Love it!