However food makes a great hostess gift and the presentation is my favorite part. Recently, we were invited to a formal dinner party where I gave the hostess this gift.
I also made this gift box out of a shoe box and left over burlap from my fabric stash and some ribbon. It turned out beautiful and the hostess loved it.
**I half this recipe and make two loaves from it.
Italian Rosemary Bread
3 cups warm water
1 tsp. white sugar
2 tbsp. (or 2 packets) active dry yeast
1 tbsp. salt
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
7 cups all-purpose flour
- Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes until it appears slightly foamy and creates small bubbles (this is proofing).
- Stir in 4 cups of flour and beat it until it’s smooth. Then let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Beat in the salt and herbs. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until it forms a firm dough.
- Knead until it is smooth and springy. This is going to take about 8 minutes or so if you knead it by hand. It needs to be very smooth in order to have a fantastic consistency.
- Place it in a greased bowl and turn it over so that the dough is greased all over (you don’t want it sticking to the bowl). Cover dough with a cloth or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for one hour.
- Punch it down gently and divide into 3 balls. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets (be sure you pick two that will fit in your oven at the same time). Form dough into either long or round loaves on the cookie sheets. Use a very sharp knife a cut a few slits in the top of the loaves. Cover and let rise about 30 more minutes.
- Bake in a 450F degree oven for about 18-20 minutes. The top should be golden brown and the bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when tapped.
- Mist dough with water twice while it is cooking. This will create a delicate, crisp crust.
- Brush top of loaves with butter right after they come out of the oven. This gives a very soft, buttery crust.
- Form dough into breadsticks (be careful, it makes a lot!)
- Omit herbs (but not the salt) for a plain Italian bread.