Homemade Bread

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Boy am I happy to be back! This time with a bang: homemade bread. The most comforting, delicious baked good. I’ve always wanted to make my own bread- I think there is something truly wonderful and admirable about someone who makes their own bread. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wish I had the time and the will power to make bread for every meal, but that’s just not that case, i’ll leave it up to special occasions. But still, now that I have done it, I don’t have to be intimidated by the process anymore. I realized that it’s not that making bread is hard, it just takes a lot of time and precise measurements (Something I have never been good at). My inspiration comes from here, the source: Bon appetite.

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Rosemary Semolina Bread:
Yield = 1 very large round

1 3/4 cups warm water (105°F), divided
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (measured from 2 envelopes)
2 1/4 cups (about) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 1/2 cups semolina flour (pasta flour)*
2 teaspoons fine-grained sea salt
Additional semolina flour

1 teaspoon course-grained sea salt (like Maldon)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, divided

1. Place 1 1/4 cups warm water in medium bowl; sprinkle yeast over and stir to blend. Let stand 5 minutes to soften. Whisk to dissolve yeast. Add 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour; whisk until smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature (about 75°F) until bubbles form and yeast mixture has more than doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

2. Whisk remaining 1/2 cup warm water, olive oil, and rosemary in large bowl to blend. Using rubber spatula, mix in semolina flour and 2 teaspoons fine-grained sea salt (dough will be very dry). Stir in yeast mixture. Work in 3/4 cup all purpose flour. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, adding more all purpose flour by tablespoonfuls if sticky. Let rest 5 minutes. Knead until dough springs back when pressed with thumb, about 8 minutes or less.

3. Lightly oil large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface. Flatten dough into 18×12-inch rectangle. Starting from 1 long side, roll tightly to form 2 1/2-inch-diameter, 20-inch-long log. With seam side down, shape log into ring, and press the end into the side, just so it adheres.

4. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, or use pizza stone and sprinkle sheet with additional semolina flour. Transfer dough ring to prepared sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let bread rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove plastic wrap from bread. Using sharp knife, cut 1/4-inch-deep slit all the way around top of loaf. Spray bread lightly with water.  Sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds and 1 teaspoon coarse-grained salt. Transfer to oven. Bake bread 15 minutes, spraying lightly with water every 5 minutes. Continue to bake without spraying until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 30 minutes longer. Transfer bread to rack and cool completely.Or if you are like me and cannot wait, slice into it after 15 minutes and die of hot homemade bread heaven!

*Semolina flour is available at specialty foods stores, Italian markets, and some supermarkets. I found my bag at Safeway!

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