Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rosemary Salt French Bread

When I was growing up, some of my fondest memories are of my mother baking French bread in the kitchen, her purple and white flowered apron tied loosely around her neck and waist, a kitchen towel draped over her shoulder. I would wait patiently for the bread to rise in a bowl, and when it was time, I got the joy of punching it with my little fist. Even though my parents no longer live in Nevada where I grew up, I swear it feels just like home when I walk into their Tucson house, my mother never failing to make a couple of warm aromatic loaves on the day I arrive. (I usually request it with a side of Swiss cheese fondue…)
I’ve always been a little intimidated to try baking the bread myself; after all, no one will ever make it as good as my mother. But when Emily proclaimed June as Rosemary month, I thought this was as good a time as ever. You see, I love Rosemary in bread and if I could incorporate the fragrant, pine-like herb into my mother’s famous french bread recipe (just like Jolie added it to her bread), it just might make it different enough that I wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t turn out the same, and creative enough to go on Beauties and the Feast.
The thing about this bread is that there are very few ingredients and it is actually easy to make but by the time I finished it I felt like I had birthed a bread baby. It took lots of patience and nurturing. But it was fun, too, and the perfect thing to do on a Saturday. I called my mom about 15 times during the process and even sent her a picture I took with my phone of the yeast to make sure I didn’t kill it.

Before you read any farther, I must warn you that if you plan to make this bread, start the process 5 hours before projected dinner time. I hope I didn't scare you off, it is just that this bread takes a lot of time sitting and rising, just go and do other things while it does.
-1 Package Active dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
-1 cup warm water

-1/2 cup scalded milk
-1 tablespoon sugar
-1 1/2 teaspoons salt
-1 tablespoon oil
-4 cups flour

* 1 heaping tablespoon of chopped, fresh rosemary, and a couple of pinches of sea salt if you'd like to make Klaire Pirtle's traditionally delicious recipe turn into Rosemary Salt French Bread.

1) Sprinkle yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water (not too hot or you'll kill the yeast).

2) Scald the 1/2 cup of milk by putting it in a microwavable bowl or cup and heating it in the microwave until a film forms at the top. Stick it in the refrigerator or freezer to cool for a few minutes.

3) In a large bowl dissolve sugar, salt and oil in remaining water and add cooled milk.

4) Add yeast mixture and rosemary and mix well.

5) Add flour a little at a time. Knead dough until it is workable and comes off the side of the bowl.

6) Cover with a towel and let it rise in a greased, warm bowl until double in size. (aprx. 1.5 hours), then the fun part: punch it!

7) Turn dough on lightly floured board, divide in half and let balls stand 10 minutes.

8) Roll each ball into a long loaf, place on greased cookie sheet and score 6 times.

9) Sprinkle sea salt on the top of the loaves.

10) Cover with a towel and let the loaves rise 1.5 hours or until double in size.

11) Bake 425 degrees for the first 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour. Right before it is ready to come out of the oven, brush bread with butter. Bake 3 minutes longer.

Behold the bread babies. They are twins. I am so proud.

I made some spaghetti with homemade meatballs to go with the bread. This was a very wise choice. I want to eat this all over again and it is only 9:00 in the morning.

Asher loved his bread and by the time he was done eating, he looked like any self-respecting two year old would: covered head to toe in spaghetti noodles AND sauce. I proclaimed it bath night.

When my mother was visiting us a couple of years ago while we awaited the birth of baby Asher, she and I did a lot of cooking. Here she is with a then 2 1/2 year old Ansen making M'nM cookies with her signature towel over her shoulder. Lucky Ansen that he got to do so much cooking with Buggie and lucky me that I got to do so much eating. I was 15 months pregnant after-all.


  1. There's nothing better than special family recipes that remind you of being home! I'm so proud of you for attempting this (bread intimidates me too). It looks so amazing, my mouth is watering and I'm also craving spaghetti and fresh bread even though we're still a few hours away from lunch time. I hope your boys pick up on this tradition as well and make your mom's recipe for their kids.

  2. My favorite kind of bread...baked fresh with rosemary! Great recipe, thanks for sharing!

  3. I want this bread and meatballs in my belly right now! I would pay shit-ton for that, just so you know. Yum, yum!

  4. So cool!!!! This bread is the bomb. Best ever. xoxoxo

  5. Nothing more therapeutic than baking bread. I love it. It's slow and peaceful. I have a seriously craving for rosemary bread now. Might have to just do it!