It’s cold where I live this February, and the falling snowflakes make my house feel like it’s caught inside a snow globe. On chilly, draughty days, cooking bread can be a wonderful way of heating the house and making your home smell wonderful during the process. This bread is relatively low maintenance, and can be made alongside other cooking or activities. As long as the yeast stays warm, this recipe produces a hearty loaf that easily rises to the top of your favorite bread pan.
- Three Cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 Cups warm water
- Four tbsp olive oil
- One tbsp dried dill
- Two heads of garlic
- One tbsp yeast
- One tsp honey, or sugar if preferred
- Extra olive oil as needed
- A cooking thermometer
- A bread pan
- Measuring cups and spoons
- A large mixing bowl
- A small ingredients bowl
- Prep the garlic: Drizzle the heads of garlic with olive oil, and wrap them in aluminum foil. Roast the garlic for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/175 degrees Celsius. Remove from heat and allow your foil bundle to cool. Once the garlic is cooled, open the foil. Remove one clove at a time from the garlic head, peel off the skin, and scoop out the flesh. Each clove should be brown and tender enough to slide out of the skin easily. Place the roasted cloves in a small bowl, and set aside. This step can be done ahead of time; just leave your garlic in the foil until ready to use.
- Proof the yeast: In a large mixing bowl, combine two cups warm water (between 100-110 degrees F/37-43 C) and the teaspoon of honey. Stir to incorporate. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the honey water, and allow the mix to stand for 5-8 minutes. While you wait, the yeast should visibly change from distinct granules into a moist, puffy foam. This indicates that the yeast is alive and can be used for baking. If your yeast has not reacted, get a new batch and start over.
- Make the dough: Add the flour and the dill to the yeast, and mix until fully incorporated. The dough should be wet enough to form a cohesive ball, but it may be a bit sticky. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil to the bowl, and coat the outside of the dough ball in the oil to keep it from sticking to the bowl as it rises.
- The first rise: Turn your oven on to 120 degrees F/48 C for sixty seconds, then turn the oven off again. If you’re using a toaster oven, set the oven on the lowest toasting setting for one minute, and then turn the oven off. Placing the dough in a warm location encourages the yeast and makes your dough rise faster. Take the mixing bowl of dough and place it in the oven, covering it with a cloth. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes or until it fills the mixing bowl.
- Knead in the garlic: Remove the mixing bowl from the oven, and place it on a counter. Take the garlic cloves you set aside, and add them to the mixing bowl, along with another 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Using your hands, knead the dough in the mixing bowl for 5-10 minutes, or until the garlic is fully incorporated and the dough “snaps back” when poked with a finger. Add more olive oil if the bread starts to stick to the bowl or to your hands. Once the dough is springy and appropriately seasoned, grease your bread pan with a tablespoon of olive oil, and transfer your dough from the mixing bowl to your bread pan.
- The second rise: Put the dough back into your warm-but-dormant oven, and let it rise for another 30-40 minutes, or until the dough reaches the top of the bread pan.
- Bake: Remove the bread from the oven and set on a counter. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Bake your bread for 30-35 minutes. Insert a cooking thermometer into the center of your loaf. Once internal temperature is 190 degrees, remove the loaf from the oven.
- Want a more flavorful bread? Try more garlic, or add some shredded parmesan or asiago cheese.