Give us this day, our daily rosemary loaf

It must be the weather, or the time of year, or something.  Blue Monday has been and gone.  Whew!  Over for another year.  I try to ignore it when the media exhorts us all to feel dire. Weather is rubbish, credit card bills from Christmas all due, no sun, no warmth (well, OK it's been mild for winter but not warm, precisely), no holidays in prospect and the grey skies and damp air are enough to affect even the relentlessly cheery.  We want to hibernate, crank up the  heat and turn to comfort food at the very least.  I begin to feel all 'mumsy' and need to make hearty stew or soup and now, it would seem, bread!  OMG.....

A few years ago I went out and got myself a slow cooker for the stews and I'm happy to report it was not one of those things that got used once then sat in the cupboard gathering dust for eternity.  I have used it a great deal:  in fact, I got so enthusiastic about crock pot cooking rediscovered that I went and bought a better one with an insert pot that will brown the meat on the hob and then goes into the heating element to spend hours lazily cooking to perfection .

A few years before that, it was a bread maker, prompted by a craving for fresh bread that Kit could eat without fear of allergic reaction from any stray nuts or nut products in the bakery.  This, too, has been an appliance hit and I apologise to those of you who make it from scratch and have the time and patience to knead and wait and knead and wait.  I've been there, done that and even, in my youth, attempted croissants and braided egg bread and all kinds of weird and wonderful yeast-based carbs when I got onto a break-making kick in my teens.  Now, however, I prefer to leave the hand kneading to those who enjoy it while I simply plug in the trusty Panasonic and let it get to work.

Today is definitely a bread day.  Yesterday's yummy-sounding post had to do with another antidote to the January blahs and I considered a few alternatives for my own panacea, then hit on bread, more precisely rosemary bread.  And this is why:

Last Saturday, David and I drove down to Tunbridge Wells, a place we used to visit a great deal but which, now we have Europe's largest (and, we think, best) shopping mall almost on our doorstep, has fallen by the wayside.  There are fewer shops, no free parking and it's not all under one elegant atrium roof.   But we spent a couple of nostagic hours revisiting old haunts and noted the demise of some shops and the birth of a couple of others.  We even bought a bed.  But I digress.

  There is a little bakery, Flour Power City Bakery, on Monson Road and David nipped in and bought a loaf of rosemary bread for our lunch.

It was wonderful and,quite simply, one of the best breads we've ever eaten.  It's not something one would toast for breakfast, necessarily, but with soup, or cheese, or any savoury, it was a perfect accompaniment and oh, so moreish.  

So I offer my own version now, which is adapted from my other recipes for the bread machine with the addition of the necessary herbs.  It works. 

Into the loaf pan of your bread maker, measure out

1 tsp fast-acting yeast
1 tsp white or golden caster sugar
1 tsp salt
pinch (good-sized if you like herbs) Italian seasoning
2 tsps dried rosemary
pinch ground black pepper
320 g bread flour (I used half white, half granary on this first try)

Pour 170 ml water on the top and 2 tbsp olive oil

Set on the 'basic' or 'white' bread setting and let 'er go!

The result was exactly what I hoped for.  The bread was soft and 'herby' and went very well with the leftover chili and rice from last night. 

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if this works for those without bread makers? Since I want to start making my own bread more often, I might look out some advice on techniques (or turn to master breadmaker Jonathan) and see if I can recreate using just my hands and the oven...stay tuned.