Friday, February 18, 2011

Italian Herb Bread

I love bread.

I love making it. The feeling as the dough becomes more and more firm and elastic beneath the heels of my hands makes me feel as though I'm back in my Nana's kitchen, even though I never once made bread there. She did it all. The act reminds me of her.

I love the way it makes my kitchen smell while it's baking. Fresh, yeasty, buttery, salty. Mostly, it smells homey.

Ultimately, I just love eating it. There's nothing better eating your own fresh bread. You can taste the effort and love.

Okay, maybe eating other people's fresh bread is good too. I'd certainly never say no.

already with a hunk missing
Anyway, when it came to this bread, I was all out of the Parmesan cheese called for. As I looked through the contents of the back of my fridge, hoping in vain to find a chunk of flavour back there, an idea stuck me.

I was looking for a savoury flavour, not necessarily cheese. I needed something umami.

That's when this ridiculously underused pantry staple (and by staple, I mean it's been in my cupboard since Valentine's day 2009) came in handy:


It's sea salt. And truffles.


Why I never use this salt, I don't know. It's awesome. I was concerned that the truffle flavour, being a delicate one, would be lost in the baking process, but let me assure you, it wasn't at all. I simply swapped out the regular salt for the truffle salt, omitted the cheese and went on with the recipe (feel free to keep the cheese yourself)

Not only did our kitchen smell of the glorious scent of bread, it smelled of truffles too.

Life is good.

Italian Herb Bread with Truffles

(adapted from this recipe at allrecipes.com)

Ingredients

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (that's 2¼ tsp)
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3 cups all purpose flour

(if you don't have truffle salt and want to use cheese, add in 1/3 cup grated Parmesan  with the flour)

Directions

Mix yeast, warm water, and white sugar together in a large bowl. Set aside for five minutes, or until mixture becomes foamy. 
Stir olive oil, salt, herbs, garlic powder, onion powder, cheese, and 3 cups flour into the yeast mixture. Gradually mix in the next three cups of flour. Dough will be stiff. 


Knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and rubbery. Place in an oiled bowl, and turn to cover the surface of the dough with oil. Cover with a damp linen dish towel. Allow to rise for one hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. 


Punch dough down to release all the air. Shape into loaf. Place loaf on a greased cookie sheet, or into two greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about a 30 minutes. 



Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Remove loaves from pan(s), and let cool on wire racks for at least 15 minutes before slicing. 

  
Excellent with butter, turned into croutons, or just ripped up in hunks and dunked in your favourite dip.

Or eat it plain. I'm not going to judge your bread choices.

2 comments:

TheRobotLunchBox said...

The bread looks really good and cool idea with the truffle salt. Reminds me of when I was a baker, the smell of walking into the bakery every morning was just divine!

Alyson said...

There's something just totally comforting about the smell of bread, isn't there? It always speaks to me of home and family.

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