I adore baking, but I am not a very good baker as far as breads and pastries go, which makes me sad. I can whip up breads in our bread maker, but when I try to make them by hand, I end up making bricks. However, these are two, non-bread machine breads that I have made which turned out beautifully. So you know if I can make it with out mucking it up, you can too! These are quite time-consuming, but are not very difficult, even for a novice bread baker like myself, and there’s only two since I’m a bread novice, but both of them are really quite lovely.
Blueberry Rosemary Focaccia
This came from the June 2014 issue of Sunset Magazine. It was also the very first bread that I ever made by hand which turned out very well. I’m still pleased as punch about that. I found it to be very delicious; the salty-sweet-savouriness of it with the olive oil, salt, and rosemary of the bread paired with the tangy sweet of the fresh blueberries. The rest of my family didn’t really agree.
- 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
- 1 C warm water (90 – 105 degrees)
- 1 C milk, at room temperature
- 9 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus 1/2 tsp flaked salt
- 2 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves, chopped, divided
- About 6 C flour
- 2 C blueberries
- 1 tsp coarse or regular granulated sugar
Put yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl) and pour warm water on top. Let sit until yeast dissolves, about 5 – 8 minutes. Add milk, 1/4 cup oil, the kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon rosemary. Attach dough hook and with mixer on low, gradually blend in 6 cups of flour. Beat on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 – 12 minutes; if necessary, add about 2 tablespoons more of flour until it’s only slightly tacky. (Or knead by hand: Stir in 5 3/4 cups flour with a spoon, then knead on a work surface, adding flour as required to prevent sticking.)
Cover dough in bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Oil a 12 x 17″ rimmed baking sheet with 1 Tbs oil. Punch down dough, transfer to baking sheet, and use your hands to push it into an even layer; if it’s too springy, let it rest about 10 minutes. Cover loosely and let rise until puffy, 45 – 60 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 degrees.
With your fingers, poke holes 1 – 2 inches apart straight down into the risen dough. Scatter blueberries over dough, then drizzle dough with 2 Tbs oil. Combing remaining 1 Tbs rosemary and the sugar; sprinkle on top.
Bake until golden 25 – 30 minutes. Brush with remaining 2 Tbs oil and sprinkle with flaked salt. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Loosen focaccia with a wide spatula and slide onto a work surface. Cut into pieces about 3 x 4″ and serve warm or at room temperature.
- I didn’t trust myself to mix by hand, so I did use our stand mixer with dough hook. I also used a towel to cover instead of the other suggestion of plastic wrap.
- For the initial rise, I let it sit for 1.5 hours and did need to let it rest the suggested 10 minutes because it was too springy. The second rise, I think I started poking holes in it between 45 and 50 minutes.
- I think frozen blueberries would be OK for this, but I purchased fresh one’s off a woman selling them on the side of the road. Honestly, that’s not a weird or scary sight here in the deep south; it’s actually quite normal.
Mozzarella Stuffed Rosemary Parmesan Soft Pretzels
This was my first time ever making pretzels and is a recipe that I found on Pinterest. I remember making them on my parents’ wedding anniversary because they were out for the day. It took me all day to make these. Were they worth it? You betcha! Everyone loved them. They were so unbelievably (or believable, really?) good! I haven’t made either bread again, because they were so time-consuming, this one though I will definitely make again soon.
- 1 pkg rapid rise yeast
- 1 1/2 C warm water (110 – 115 degrees)
- 1 1/2 Tbs sugar
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
- 4 1/4 C flour
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter (very soft)
- 1 C mozzarella, shredded
- 1/4 C Parmesan, grated
- 1 egg, beaten, 1 Tbs water*
- 2 Tbs butter, melted
- 1/4 C Parmesan
- 1/2 Tbs fresh rosemary*
- Pinch of salt
Combine 1 1/2 cups water, yeast, sugar and salt in stand mixer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add rosemary, flour, and butter and knead on medium speed for 12 minutes. Cover dough with warm, damn cloth and place in a warm area for 1 hour.
Combine the 1 cup mozzarella and the 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a bowl and put into the freezer. Line two large baking sheets with parchment and set aside. Divide risen dough into 8″ rounds. Roll out into ropes, 16″ long and 4″ wide. Add 2 tablespoons of frozen cheese mid along the ropes length. Tightly roll back into a rope and pinch ends together. Make a U shape by crossing the ends over and pinching the ends to the bottom of the dough.
In a large pot, bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rapid boil. Place pretzels, one at a time, into the boiling liquid. Immediately remove with slotted spoon and place pretzels on the prepared baking sheets, and brush tops with the egg wash. Bake at 425 degrees for 16 – 18 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Brush tops of pretzels with melted butter, pinch of salt, the Parmesan and the fresh rosemary.
- *Egg wash. If you are unfamiliar with an egg wash, for this recipe it is the 1 egg, beaten plus the 1 Tbs of water. This is to give the pretzels a nice golden brown colour. If not for The Sister trying her hand at baking and utilizing egg washes, I would have been unfamiliar with what this was called or why it is done.
- The initial recipe simply wants a portion sprig of rosemary on top. I chopped the rosemary and sprinkled it on top, which I think was better. Also it is important to use only fresh rosemary for this recipe and not dried.
- The cheese for this does not have to be super fancy. You can use mozzarella snack cheese sticks if you have them lying around (in which case don’t try to grate it, just pull off strings) or purchase a bag of preshredded mozzarella, unless you just want to spring for a good ball of mozzarella. Also, the Parmesan can be a wedge that you grate yourself, a less fancier variety of the shredded or grated that comes in a plastic container in the refrigerated section or even grated table Parmesan which is sold in the pasta isle.
I always see recipes with varied measurement abbreviations. I always use the standard form, but if you are not familiar with that, it is as follows.
- C = cup(s)
- pkg = package
- Tbs = tablespoon
- tsp = teaspoon