Monday, October 10, 2011

Hostess with the Mostest - Italian Rosemary Bread

I'm of the belief that if someone invites me to their home and cooks me dinner, I shouldn't show up empty handed. Hostess gifts are also so much fun if you don't wait till your on your way to the party to think about it. If that does happen, grabbing a bottle of wine is always a nice gesture.

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.

Two homemade loaves of Italian Rosemary Bread and  a bottle of her favorite type of wine wrapped in argyle socks. Just the wine and socks is a cute gift, I think.

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.

This bread is delicious with just about anything! Make sure you put it in a plastic baggie if it's not going to be eaten that day. Also after 3-5 days, if you want to make it last a little longer, throw it in the fridge. This bread is also great frozen if you want to eat one loaf and save the other loaves.

**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

  1. Dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes until it appears slightly foamy and creates small bubbles (this is proofing).
  2. Stir in 4 cups of flour and beat it until it’s smooth. Then let it rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Beat in the salt and herbs. Add remaining flour, one cup at a time, until it forms a firm dough.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
(adapted from Domestic Cents)

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