Monday, May 4, 2009

Rosemary Olive Oil Boule

A gloomier Monday morning could not exist. Well, perhaps if it were cold out, say 40 degrees instead of our current 55. But the rain has been pouring since early this morning. And the grass is growing, much to Jack’s dismay.

I hadn’t done any baking for a month, and yesterday felt well enough to give it a try. The problem is, we needed everything. Sandwich bread, bread for French toast, an herb bread, muffins for breakfast, and because I had 2 large very ripe bananas, something made from bananas. No, not the muffins because I had my heart set on lemon-blueberry muffins (to me, banana muffins are a “winter” muffin).

Seven hours later, not including the time I had to spend later slicing and wrapping for the freezer, the tally was:

2 loaves four-grain sandwich bread

2 rosemary-olive oil boulés

1 loaf no-knead wheat

24 lemon-blueberry muffins

banana-coconut rum cake with chocolate glaze

and 2 whole wheat pizza crusts, one for the freezer and one for dinner

I was utterly exhausted by the time I got everything cleaned and put away. But now the freezer is full of bread again, and all is right with my happy carb-laden world.

Alas, although the cake is wonderful I have no recipe to post. Actually, it started out to be a banana bread, but I had already used my larger loaf pans for the 4-grain bread and I knew that the batter would rise and flow out of a the smaller 1-pound pan. I altered the original recipe a lot, then when the batter seemed to be too dry, I added several glugs of coconut rum. So I made it into a cake, then when it came out of the oven I scattered bittersweet chocolate chips over the top, smoothing them after they melted. Maybe some day I will give it another try, because the coconut-rum-banana-chocolate flavor (and only 1/4 cup of oil plus whole wheat flour) made this a relatively healthy and delicious snack.

The new bread recipe that I made is from Cuisine At Home, Rosemary Olive Oil Boule. Of course, I made two (I always double these recipes because breads freeze so nicely).

I ran out of both whole wheat and white whole wheat flours (!) so I used only 1 1-2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour in the boules. They are very good, moist with a nice tender crumb and a good, though not overpowering, rosemary scent and flavor. Perfect to serve with pasta!

Because this bread uses a poolish (or biga) as a starter, it must be started several hours ahead. But it is a nice dough to work with, though a tad sticky, and the results are well worth the time.

Rosemary–Olive Oil Boulé

Makes: 1 boulé

Total Time: 4 1/2 hours + cooling


1 1/4

cups bread flour


cup room-temperature water (70°–90°)


tsp. room-temperature active dry or instant yeast



cups all-purpose flour


tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 1/2

tsp. table salt


tsp. room-temperature active dry or instant yeast


cup room-temperature water (70°–90°)


cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine bread flour, water, and yeast (rehydrated with 1 Tbsp. water from the 3/4 cup) for the poolish starter in a measuring cup or bowl until the mixture looks like lumpy pancake batter. Cover poolish with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 3–4 hours. Surface will be bubbly. Refrigerate poolish overnight, then let poolish come to room temperature (about 1 hour) before using it in bread dough.

Whisk together 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, rosemary, and salt for the dough in a large bowl. Add yeast (rehydrated with 1 Tbsp. water from the 1/4 cup). Stir remaining water into poolish starter. (It will be very thin.) Using a wooden spoon, stir poolish and olive oil into flour mixture until blended. (Dough will be very wet.) Scrape dough onto well-floured surface and turn with bench knife, adding more flour (from remaining 1/2 cup) sparingly, just until dough can be worked with hands. Turn a bowl upside down over dough and let dough rest for 10–15 minutes to develop gluten.

Knead dough until smooth but still slightly sticky. (Do not add more flour to work surface; if needed, flour hands.) Knead 10–15 minutes more by hand (or 8 minutes by stand mixer on medium speed with a dough hook),.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover dough with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Degas dough slightly by tri-folding and flipping it over in the bowl; cover dough again and let it rise for 1 more hour.

Shape dough into boulé. Transfer to a parchment-lined inverted baking sheet. Cover boulé with plastic wrap coated with nonstick spray and let rise 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 475°, with baking stone (or another inverted baking sheet) placed on middle rack. Slash boulé 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep several times across top in design of choice, using a straight-edge razor or serrated knife.

Mist boulé heavily with hot water. Immediately slide boule and parchment onto preheated baking stone (or hot inverted baking sheet). Mist inside of oven with 10 sprays of water; close oven door. Wait 30 seconds and repeat. Reduce heat to 450° and bake boulé 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 425°; bake boulé an additional 10 minutes. Finally, reduce heat to 375° and bake boulé 20 more minutes. Remove boulé from oven; cool bread on rack 45 minutes.

My note: baking took only 30 minutes total, rather than the 40 minutes the recipe specifies. As I use an oven thermometer, I just don't know what happened, so check yours about 10 minutes before it is to be done.