Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Twofer: Italian Bread and Homemade Roasted Garlic Butter

                                                                                                                                                                 

I remember posting when I made pizza for Casey that I needed to use my bread machine more often.  This week has provided that opportunity and today I am making Italian Bread.  We all love going out to Italian restaurants.  The hostess seats you at a fine table.  The waiter comes to introduce himself, advises you of the night's specials, and takes your drink order.  Then those magic words (in truth part of the reason you chose Italian in the first place),  "I'll be right back with a basket of bread."  Ahhhh.

I know many of you prefer bread sticks.  We all know what YOUR favorite Italian spot is, don't we?  However, I much prefer a loaf of bread.  Something about tearing off a chunk of warm bread and seeing the texture of the white insides as the crusty outside crumbles and flakes.   That, my friends, beats any bread stick.  

4 cups all purpose flour
1 TBSP brown sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1 pkg. active dry yeast or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 egg
1 TBSP water
3 cornmeal

Now I'll start off by saying everyone's bread machine is not the same.  You know what order your's suggests putting the ingredients in so follow those guidelines.  Mine calls for liquid first then dry but keeping salt and yeast separate to avoid killing the yeast.  

Place ingredients (except for the egg, water and cornmeal) into your machine and process on the dough cycle.  This is usually 1 1/2 hours. 

I had to add 1 TBSP of additional water.
Nice elastic dough.  This is what we want to see.
Fully risen and ready to divide.
Get your cookie sheet ready by sprinkling liberally with cornmeal.  This keeps the bread from sticking.

When the dough is ready, turn onto floured surface and divide in half.  I actually skip this step.  I flour my hands and shape dough in the air over the sink so I don't need to clean a cutting board or my counter.   Form two loaves and place on cornmeal coated cookie sheet.  Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled.


In my other house I would do laundry on the same day as making bread.  The dryer would warm my small laundry room and provide the perfect atmosphere for the bread to rise in.  Don't worry if your house is not warm (I love air conditioning too), it just may take a little longer.

When it has doubled, make a glaze with the egg and water and brush it on the loaves. 


Take a sharp knife and cut a slit down the center in one long motion.  At this point you can shake off the excess cornmeal if you would like.  Not necessary, but it may smoke a little in the oven if you don't.  I don't.


Now into the oven @ 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Bread is ready when it makes a hollow sound when thumped.  Cool covered with a kitchen towel on a rack.  Smells great, doesn't it?




                                                                                                                                                                 

Now that we have the bread we need Roasted Garlic Butter.  

Garlic Cloves
Olive Oil
Salt
butter

There are no amounts listed here because it is all to taste and how much you need.  For my purposes I placed 7 cloves of garlic in foil, drizzled about 2 tsp of olive oil over them, and sprinkled with a large pinch of kosher salt.


Seal the foil and put in a 400 degrees oven for 30 minutes.  If you can go the whole 30 minutes without walking past the oven, opening the door slightly, and taking in a big whiff I will be impressed.

Take the garlic out, cool  enough so you can squeeze the pulp from the papery cover.  Using a fork, mash the mushy garlic insides in a small bowl.


Using the same fork, I mashed the garlic and added about 5 TBSP butter.  I mixed well and chilled in the refrigerator to allow the garlic time to flavor the butter.  Spread on bread, top mashed potatoes, or toss with hot pasta.  Scoop chilled butter with a small ice cream scoop for a pretty presentation on a bread plate for a dinner party.

By the way, if you don't have a small ice cream scoop consider getting one.  Mine is equal to 1 tablespoom and  I use it for everything but ice cream.  It is great for making equal sized portions of cookie dough so the cookies bake evenly, and the sliding bar on the scoop makes it each to get the dough out.  It's also great for making melon balls for salads or snacks.


Back to the butter.  Before I had a chance to get a picture of the final product, my son finished it off on his mashed potatoes.  He said it tasted awesome.  That's good enough for me.

                                                                                                                                                                 

As much as I have enjoyed perusing the internet and my cookbooks for recipes this week, I have missed my sewing room.   I look forward to getting back to Crackers.  I think I have healed from the unsewing I had to do last week.