There is nothing quite as satisfying as the smell of bread baking, especially if it is pushing its way up from the floor of your own oven. Don’t get me wrong, smelling it bake anywhere is a treat, but it is extra nice when that delicious aroma is making its way through your own domain.
I lived in Germany with my family for six years and traveled Europe extensively. For lots of folks, it is the architecture, the history, the ambiance that takes them to Europe along with their checklist of things to do and see. For me, it was the bakery and the loaf that was particular to that region.
I got to be intimate with lots of different loaves in lots of different countries. (And yes, bread for me is a very sensual experience. From the sonblummen brot (sunflower seed bread) in Germany to the white, refined flour loaf that was baked around a sausage in what was then Yugoslavia on the isle of Krk, was all very tasty. And I am still trying to reproduce the bread that we had in Turkey…(Before we left for the Middle East I did my homework…What to eat, make sure you tried and to stay away from and when researching bread, lots of recipes were found and I could not wait to taste them.) While seated at Rose’s Cafe I asked our waiter what type of bread it was.
The man looked at me like I was one of those crazy American’s he had heard so much about and simply replied, “Madam, bread is bread.”
And actually, not really. As I have scoured through many Middle Eastern recipe books and still have not found one like we had that day. Oh well…..
Bread, the staff of life, the stuff of love…love, you say?
Yes, indeedy…my very own husband came to me by the way of my bread cookbook. I can still see him standing in the kitchen of the apartment of where I lived in graduate school and him picking up the bread cookbook and saying,
“Whose is this?”
“Mine,” I replied and so a friendship-relationship became one of courtship. On his checklist of things he wanted in a wife was that she had to know how to make bread. And by golly, I could do that, even then. And still do today.
In a kitchen at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, my baby girl, just nine months old and walking but not quite yet talking would come and get me when the bread was just about done in the oven. She had the nose for bread, even then. She would come running into where ever I was and would take my hand and we would hurry off to the kitchen where she would point at the oven and make “excited sounds” until I would show her on the timer that we had to wait until the “ding” sounded. Together we would prep for the bread to be done. We would set her little table with bread plates and a little jam and butter on each plate and wait. As she grew older, this evolved into a child’s tea and perhaps a hardboiled egg would be added along with hot chocolate or a child’s tea, which was more milk than the bolder stuff that mom was drinking.
All wonderful memories associated with something as basic as a human sustenance. A very small something that I was able to give to those that fed my heart.
And now, lots of years and loaves later, I have a bread machine and a mixer with a dough hook and still pretty good use of my own two hands that help me make yet another loaf of bread.
And this particular loaf is very tasty, indeed. I started out trying to recreate the loaf served at The Macaroni Grill and I like to think I came pretty close.
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat
1/4 cup rye
1/4 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water (follow your yeast directions for the water temp) if you want a less crispy loaf, substitute 1/4 cup olive oil for 1/4 cup water. (Also, you may require a bit more water. The dough should be soft like a baby’s butt.)
1 TB sugar
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped (can’t find fresh, use dried)
1 TB yeast
Combine sugar and warm water. Check to set that it proofs. Add salt, flours, oats. Mix. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead ten minutes, mixing in the rosemary. Shape into an oblong loaf and place on a baking sheet(the one I use is stone ware) using a sharp knife, slash the top about 1/4 inch deep in about 3-4 different places. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. (If I have a lot going on, I use the dough cycle on my bread machine. Follow the manufacturers directions for loading the ingredients into the machine, adding the rosemary about 15 minutes into the kneading process. Once again, check your bread machine book, it will tell you when to add follow on ingredients.) Then follow the directions for slashing/ rising/baking.
Preheat oven to 350. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Remove and coat with olive oil.