an olive rosemary bread to calm the soul...

Posted by Fia Skye on

There is alchemy in bread baking I've long respected and been wooed by. The very best bread, still warm from the oven, has a way of calming the soul and bringing people together - or perhaps silencing everyone long enough to recall something worth remembering...

In response to several requests, here is one of my favorite base recipes... 

the saturday white bread 

(an adaptation from Flour Water Salt Yeast: the Fundamentals of Artisan Bread & Pizza by Ken Forkish)

ingredients (this is half of what is called for in his book, enough to make 1 loaf - I start this bread on the first cup of coffee and bake it around 4pm. It's pushing the river a bit - depends on the heat in the kitchen... basically, the dough tells me when it's ready to be baked)

500g white flour (I like King Arthur Flour and sub in around 75g of their Irish style flour)

360g water at 90-95-degrees F (the temp is key, but I adjust the amount depending on the weather and humidity in the kitchen)

10g fine sea salt 

2-3g instant yeast (I use SAF yeast)

(3-4 healthy sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped + a mix of roughly chopped olives - these are my additions, not recommended by Mr. Forkish)

Ok, so I really recommend you find his book. He explains the why of the how - which will help you adapt this to your kitchen, and for those who are new to bread baking it's a wonderful introduction. Here's the gist:

 1. Autolyse. Combine the flour with the water in a large bowl. Cover and let it rest for 20-30 minutes.

(my hands are small, so I go rogue and start mixing with a very large rubber spatula and then use my hands to get it to the right texture. My tried and true way to "cover" is to use a silicone lily pad that fits the bowl, then cover that with a flour sack towel and put it in the sunniest part of the kitchen.)

2. Sprinkle the yeast and salt over the top of the dough and mix by hand until fully enclosed. 

(Mr. Forkish has a specific technique he suggests - I find his "pincer" method works really well. Knead your favorite way until the dough has some tension in it, and is completely smooth. Oddly enough, I do this in the oversized bowl - a habit I formed from living in very small kitchens with no counter space... 

3. Let it rest. He suggests 2-3 folds - usually during the first 1 1/2 hrs - but I tend to feel it out - when it bubbles, I fold it (and at this point add in the fresh rosemary and olives). 

After an hour or two when it bubbles again, I fold it again. 

Ok - so here's where I veer from the recipe - let me say though, I recommend first following his guidelines... It's science. If you know all the moving parts, it will help you troubleshoot when the day goes NOT how I imagined it and the bread continues to follow her own science... 

4. Shape - Mr. Forkish uses floured proofing baskets - I used to go this route too... but lately I shortcut this and keep the dough in the bowl - folding it a final time right before I put the dutch oven in the oven as it heats to temp

5. The suggested heat is 475-degrees. Our induction runs really hot, so I put it around 435-degrees. Once the oven is to temp, VERY CAREFULLY, I take out the dutch oven, and with a wet hand, scoop the dough out of the bowl and plop it into the cast iron in as neat a round as I can muster, put on the lid, and bake for 30 minutes. 

When the timer rings, take off the lid. Bake another 17-22 minutes (depending on the look of the bread at this point) - I always check it at 15 minutes and take it out when it smells right... And if in doubt, I turn off the oven, put the lid back on, and let residual heat finish the cooking.

As soon as it's done, take it out of the dutch oven and put it on a rack to cool.

We slice the entire loaf the day it is baked and freeze anything left over. Fabulous toasted in the morning or with a bowl of soup.

 ~ fia

p.s. Some of these instructions may appall professional bakers - I would offer in my defense that only after countless hours spent making various recipes, exactly as they were written in this wonderful tome, did I start to bend the rules... I found where my adaptations failed gloriously, and where they somehow held... I do find one of the great secrets is knowing the texture the dough must be, before you ask it to rise... (plus knowing your oven... and being willing to experiment...) 

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  • Thank you for this! I made it yesterday (using my Ken Forkish sourdough starter), baked it just before bed last night, and just had a slice for breakfast with cream cheese. It is the perfect thing on this rainy morning. It would also be perfect on a sunny morning, but this is the morning I have.

    Tessa on
  • Oh my word, Ms. Fia! The way you write about this bread is as DELISH as the recipe sounds. I have NO counter space in the sweet little place I rent now in Pgh, PA so I was quite intrigued by your comment of just doing it all in a large bowl. I used to LOVE baking bread back when I owned a home with an ab-fab kitchen, LOTS of counter space. etc. I’m feeling the urge to give this a go…or, just lay down until the urge passes, LOL.
    So appreciate you and Kai, your art work and most especially, your HEART work.


    Cheryl Lowitzer on
  • Thanks for this Fia, I’m a bread experimenter also and think I’ll try it with my sourdough starter!

    Phyllis Maher on
  • Oh, FIA…do I Dare try this? When I was almost a ‘new bride’ (in my first marriage), the Methodist minister’s wife took me under her wing and into her kitchen to teach me ‘the art of breadmaking’. I was naive and caught on quickly to ‘the touch’, and ‘feel’ I was to encounter, and recall, in order to have the perfect buns or loaves. Then four children later, and feeling overwhelmed, I let go of the confidence that reigned when naivety and trust were in charge! Do I dare believe I might let my mind squint and my hands dip back into the bowl? Your guidance is specific and I think I can do it! Thank YOU! Blessings on all that the two of you do, both with your minds…and with your hands!! Lovingly, Sharon from Fort Collins! (Thank you…both orders arrived!)

    Sharon Greenlee on
  • This post warms my heart… my mom was an amazing bread baker and the skill was so ingrained in her that she could never really teach me. In response to “How do I know I’m done kneading?” she replied “when it feels like ‘that’,” pushing on the dough as if that would explain anything. I miss her bread – not nearly as much as I miss her, but more than a person should probably miss bread. Using a Cuisinart with a bread hook I finally figured out how to make something not terrible, but I usually just order from my local bakery. They make a Harvest Loaf with rosemary, craisins, and sunflower, flax, and pumpkin seeds that I just adore. Rosemary is hit or miss with me, but when done well it is heavenly. My aunt also makes these divine rosemary cashews at Christmas time. Now I am hungry!! I think this recipe may be a bit too advanced for my skill level but I appreciate it just the same.

    Emily Simmer on
  • Thank you!

    Debbie on

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