Braided Rosemary Bread

You know when you go to those expensive Italian restaurants and they bring out delicious bread to dip in seasoned olive oil? Well this week I was craving that and also learned a helpful trick in my cooking class. Bakeries are able to make breads with hard outside and soft inside with the use of a steam oven. The trick to making this kind of bread at home is to put a handful of whole ice cubes in the bottom of your oven when you put your bread in. By the time the ice starts steaming, it will produce that hard exterior on your bread.
To start, I just grabbed a cookbook (Good Housekeeping) and looked for the Italian breads. Below is the recipe I used for Braided Herb Bread.
You will need:
1 TB salt
1 TB rosemary
2 pkg or 4 1/2 tsp yeast
about 6 cups flour
2 1/2 cup water
1 TB butter

1. In a large bowl, combine salt, rosemary, yeast and 2 1/2 cups flour. In sauce pan over low heat, heat water and butter until very warn (120-130 F).
2. With mixer at medium speed, gradually beat liquid into dry ingredients. Beat 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat 2 minutes on high, scraping bowl occasionally. With spoon stir in 3 cups flour to make a soft, sticky dough. (You don't want to knead it at this point or it will be too tough, just mix in the flour).
3. Place in greased bowl; cover with towel. Let dough rise in warm place, away from draft, until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Punch down dough and turn onto a well- floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 6 equal pieces; roll each piece into an 18-inch rope. On one side of a large cookie sheet, braid 3 ropes. Repeat with remaining ropes. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubles, about 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 450 F. Bake 30 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped with fingers. Remember to add a handful of ice cubes in the bottom of the oven at the same time you put the bread in. Move to racks to cool.

I recently bought some dipping seasoning from Pampered Chef. It was very delicious with this.


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