Once upon a time I thought bread was bread and it was what it was, an essential part of life but nothing to get excited about, certainly nothing to write about! Then, several years ago I went to a restaurant and ordered a starter that came with a slice of bread, but this wasn't any old bread, Oh, no! This was lightly toasted, hand baked Rosemary bread and it was beautiful! I continued going back to that restaurant just for that bread. I eventually decided to try and create my own rosemary bread recipe because going out for an expensive meal just for the bread that came with it was a little unreasonable. I think the key to this healthy bread recipe is fresh rosemary.
Baking bread is somewhat a lost art and im certainly guilty of buying shop bought bread more often than not, so no shame here. It does take some time but i think most people dont realise just how easy it is as long as you have the time to rise the dough. For this recipe, you want to start collecting up your herbs, I've been growing this little rosemary plant for a few months now and its doing really well despite the winter, I cant wait to get it planted out in the sunshine this spring but for now its in this little pot, ive cut around 5-6 sprigs of and took all the leaves off the stalk. Then as I dont want to find big chunks of leaf in my bread ive finely chopped the rosemary leaves, I ended up with around 3 tablespoons, half of which went into my dough, the other half pressed on top.
Once your herbs are prepared you can start mixing the dough, weigh out your dry ingredients (only half of the rosemary) and mix them into a bowl. I used white bread flour as I'm trying to use up all the old flour in my cupboards but you can substitute this with wholemeal bread flour if you would like a cleaner substitute. Add in 300ml of luke-warm water, don't use hot water as you'll start cooking the bread but don't use cold either as the warmth helps activate the yeast. Traditionally, bread dough is mixed with your hands however I passionately hate getting my hands in that kind of sticky mess so I mix with a spoon and have no regrets. Your aiming for a ball of dough with a consistency that's tacky but not so sticky that it sticks to your hands the way it does when your first mixing it, if its too sticky add more flour, if its too dry and falling apart, add more water.
Once your dough is mixed, lightly flour a work surface and empty your dough out. This is where we begin kneading. To knead bread, push it down hard with your hands, almost like you were trying to roll it out without a rolling pin, fold it over, push it down, fold it over, push it down, like in the clip below but with both hands. You need to do this for a good 15 minutes. If your arms aren't aching by the end of the 15 minutes your either extremely fit or your doing it wrong. Once your dough is sufficiently kneaded it will no longer be tacky and have a smooth elastic feel. If your not making a loaf and need to split your dough into rolls or need to split it for any other reason I suggest that you do this now before rising. Pop your dough back into a bowl (many people suggest a clean oiled bowl but I have never had an issue using the same bowl I mixed the dough in, with no oil) and cover with a tea towel. Place it somewhere warm (but not hot like right in front of a fire or radiator) an airing cupboard, sunny windowsill or heated room are all good options. Leave it for around 2 hours or until the dough is 2-3 times the original size.
Now we are ready for the second knead, this is also called proving. When the dough rises, not only does the dough rise but it can also fill with air. If you skip the proving step you would still have edible bread but it may well resemble Emmental cheese or even be hollow altogether. To prevent this, we knead again to beat that air out. Do this for 2-3 minutes, its normal for the bread to shrink back down, don't panic, you didn't mess it up but it will deflate before your very eyes. With that in mind, next come the second rising, but not before we place our bread in its loaf tin or if making rolls on a baking tray. This is your last chance to shape dough if visual appearance is important to you. As you can tell, i don't worry too much about the shape, it all tastes good to me! Cover over your dough and leave to rise again for 1-2 hours, it may not rise as much as it did the first time as there is no air this time around.
Now your bread is almost ready for baking. If baking a loaf you can score 1cm deep down the middle to create that traditional shaped loaf or you could experiment with patterns in rolls. Pat the rest of your rosemary onto the top of your dough and place in the middle of an oven preheated to 180C for 35 minutes
A good tip i heard for checking if bread has finished baking is by tapping on the bottom of the loaf, if it sounds hollow then its cooked, if it doesn't then put it back in the oven for another few minutes. This bread is beautiful with cheese, cheddar and rosemary is such a wonderful combination and I urge you to try it! If cheese isn't your thing, why not try my fresh Tzatziki recipe or my Sweet Potato soup recipe which is literally to die for!
Don't forget to tag me in your photos on Insta @healthyheartywholesome
Its impossible to give correct portion calories for this recipe as it all depends on how thick you slice your bread and how much your bread has risen to begin with. I worked out there were 1760 calories in the entire loaf and if you get 10 slices from a loaf that's 176 calories a slice.
♥ 500g flour
♥ 7g yeast
♥ 1/2 tsp salt
♥ 300ml water
♥ 3 tbsp rosemary
1. Chop fresh rosemary.
2. Mix all dry ingredients apart from half of the rosemary in a large bowl. Slowly add the luke-warm water and mix either with your hands or a spoon.
3. When the dough has formed into a consistent ball with no dry bits flaking off or excessive stickiness, lightly flour a work surface and turn out your bowl of dough. Knead the bread for 15 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and elastic-y.
4. Place your dough back in a bowl and cover with a tea towel before placing in a warm area to rise for 2 hours.
5. When your dough has risen to at least twice the size remove and knead again to beat the excess air out of the dough. Shape and place in a bread loaf tin. Cover again with a tea towel and place back in a warm space for 1-2 hours.
6. When your dough has re risen, score 1cm deep along the middle of your loaf (optional)and place in an oven, preheated to 180C for 35 minutes.
7. Wait for your bread to cool and serve with Tzatziki, Cheese dip or mixed bean burgers.