This bread never lasts long in my house…the aroma of garlic and rosemary while baking fills the house and piques the appetite. As with anything you are preparing in the kitchen, you get out what you put in. The best ingredients will yield a delicious loaf of bread, so consider using quality flours (I prefer King Arthur) and pure salts, like Himalayan or sea salt, filtered water, first-cold press olive oil, and of course only fresh rosemary!
2 cups bread flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 long sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 bulb of roasted garlic
sesame & poppy seeds for topping
1 egg yolk + small splash of water
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and prepare garlic by peeling off any loose skin, trimming the tips, and sealing with a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper, in a foil packet. This will roast while you prepare your dough, about 45 minutes.
2) Soften the yeast in about 1/3 cup very warm water (hot to the touch, but not unbearable, or you will kill the yeast), mixed with sugar. Put aside and allow to turn creamy and foam up, about 10 minutes. Though not essential (you could throw the yeast, water, and sugar directly into the flour) this allows you the chance to be sure the yeast is still active, and I believe helps it smooth evenly throughout the bread dough.
3) Measure 4 cups of the flours into mixing bowl, add softened yeast mixture, plus about 2/3 cup water to start. Either kneading by hand, or with a bread hook, work dough together, carefully adding a touch more water and/or flour as needed to create an elastic, springy dough. When dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, you have reached a perfect consistency. Continue to knead about 10 minutes. This process allows the gluten to form, in turn creating a dough that will contain air pockets, aiding in the rise while baking.
4) Dump ball of dough into a greased bowl (I prefer a wooden bowl, which I use exclusively for this purpose…it “seasons” over time) and cover tightly with plastic wrap; you can also spray wrap with “anti-stick spray” as Grampa called it. Place in a warm, draft-free area of your house, or even place bowl on top of a heating pad set on medium. Allow dough to rise until it has doubled in size, usually about an hour.
6) Meanwhile, once garlic is roasted and cooled to the touch, squeeze cloves out and chop according to your preference. I usually leave large pieces. Rinse rosemary, strip from stems, and chop this into smaller bits. Mix both together, with olive oil, set aside.
5) Punch dough down, and again either by hand or by mixer, add in the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and salt. The reason for waiting until the first rise is complete before adding the salt is that otherwise the salt will interfere with the rising process. Put dough back in bowl, and allow to double in size again.
6) Time to preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Now, prepare a floured surface to work with your dough. Dump the dough out, knead it by hand a few more times, and separate into three even pieces. Roll each piece out into a rope, allowing it to rest if needed, and then braid together, pinching and tucking the ends under the loaf. I do this step directly on my baking surface to avoid transferring it after. Cover again, let rise about 15 minutes.
7) If desired, you can now mix your egg yolk with a small splash of water, brush it over the top of your loaf, and sprinkle on a small amount of salt, and plenty of sesame and poppy seeds. Bake bread in oven about 45 minutes to an hour, checking every 10 minutes or so after the first 45. Bread will be done when it reaches around 200 degrees with an internal read thermometer, or when it makes hollow “thump” when you knock on the bottom. Careful not to burn yourself!