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Parmesan, Rosemary and Olive Bread

December 28, 2009
tags: ,

Today I was going to post about one of the unbelievable desserts I made last week.  But then I realized I’d already done like four dessert posts in a row.  So then I was going to write about some incredible braised beef short ribs that I made over the weekend.  But if you’re just now emerging from your Christmas food coma, as I am, you definitely don’t want to read about braised beef short ribs, much less see pictures of them.

Instead I’m opting for something that requires little to no effort, and that can be eaten any time of day: bread.  Toss on a fried egg and some cheese, or maybe some left-over ham or turkey, and you’ve got yourself one helluva sandwich.  

The only effort required is grating some parmesan, pitting and chopping a handful of olives, and chopping some rosemary.  Oh, and you might want to finish that bottle of beer you opened because the recipe told you to (Really, it does.  After adding in the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of beer, you can’t just let the rest go to waste, right?  Unless it’s Coors Light or Miller Light, in which case, who cares.)  There’s also a little stirring and kneading, but nothing too major.  Actually, the most difficult thing with making this bread is lifting the Dutch oven.  Those things weigh like 20 pounds!

My favorite thing about this bread is how it smells coming out of the oven.  Besides the normal freshly baked bread smell (which is great on its own), there’s also the smell of melted/toasted parmesan.  We took this loaf over to a friend’s house and I sat in the car holding the warm loaf in my lap, sniffing it the whole way there (and no, I wasn’t the one driving).    

Parmesan, Rosemary and Olive Bread

(from Cooks Illustrated)

I used black olives rather than green, and I also decreased the amount of salt since the olives were quite salty. Also be careful to not over-bake the loaf, because then the bread is dry and that’s sad.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 cups)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/2 cup chopped green olives (pitted)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Whisk flour, yeast, salt, Parmesan, and rosemary in large bowl. Add water, olives, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours. 

 Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

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