14 October 2013

Eats: rosemary bread (a la Macaroni Grill)

Months – oh dear, it has been months – I told you about these delightful pesto shrimp crostini that I knocked off from Macaroni Grill. They are delicious! And a little bite of summer you should try ASAP, if you’re clinging to warm weather with white knuckles like me.

But. The upside to fall and its cooler temps is my willingness to turn on my oven again and bake. Like baking my own bread – specifically the bread I used to make those crostini! I promised the recipe and finally, here it is. It, too, is a knockoff from Macaroni Grill: their complimentary rosemary bread they serve at the beginning of the meal.

Oh my, that rosemary bread. It is delicious and decadent and everything that is right with the world. On the occasions that we go to Macaroni Grill, I order a glass of wine, drink it with that bread, and talk at length about how I’d be happy just having that bread and wine for dinner. (Then I order an entrée anyway, but that’s besides the point.)

I crave that bread often enough that I decided to learn how to make it at home, and I found that this copycat recipe is close enough. So let’s make the most of the fall weather and crank up our ovens to bake this bread! It’s not quite as simple as my go-to focaccia (I mean, what could be), but this is worth it in the end.

Start with a quarter-cup of lukewarm water, two and a quarter teaspoons of active dry yeast (one packet, if you use those), and two teaspoons of sugar. I combined them in my stand mixer bowl.

Mix it together, then let it rest for at least five minutes. And by “rest” I mean “do its yeasty magic and get all thick and frothy”.

They’re aliiiiiive!

While the yeast are doing their crazy thing, mince up a bunch of fresh rosemary.

Not literally one bunch. Use as much as you want – the original source called for three and a half tablespoons, but I used a bit more than that. I had a lot of leftover rosemary to use (hence the dark green color) so I threw in all I had. It could only make it better!

Next, I added a tablespoon(ish) of olive oil, another three-quarters cup of lukewarm water, and one and a half cups of flour, and turned on the mixer until it was just combined (with the dough hook already attached because I am so dang lazy). Then came the rosemary and a teaspoon of salt:

And finally, I added another heaping cup of flour and set the mixer on medium speed to let it knead, until I had a nice ball of dough.

Okay! Time to let the yeast do their thing again. I sprayed a bowl with cooking spray, added the dough, and covered it with the lid...

... until doubled in size, about two hours later.

Whoa. It never fails to excite me when my dough rises. It’s a science experiment with living organisms, y’all!

I liked it so much I did it again. I shaped the dough into two loaves on a greased baking sheet (covered in foil)...

...and let them rise for another hour and a half.

Ta-da! Of course, hanging around your kitchen for hours and hours waiting for dough to rise is not always the most efficient use of your time. But when you can, this science project is worth it!

Before sticking them in a preheated 400-degree oven, brush the tops of the loaves with olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt.

Then stick them in the oven for fifteen minutes, or until they’re golden brown. (The source said 15-20 minutes, but mine took longer.) And that’s it!

I served it with herb-infused dipping sauce, bottled and sold by one of our favorite local, NON-chain Italian restaurants. You could make your own or you could purchase it online! (No affiliate link or sponsorship, I just really like their food.)

My loaves weren’t quite as fluffy or buttery as the ones from Macaroni Grill... but perhaps that’s because things always taste better when you don’t make them? Still, these are definitely passable in between restaurant visits! And no waiter is around to judge if you eat a whole loaf with wine in addition to the rest of your dinner.

So now that fall weather seems here to stay, let’s crank up our ovens and make our houses smell like freshly baked bread! Enjoy!

Finally: this week’s meal plan is embarrassingly easy, boring, and a repeat of past week’s to use up leftovers. But for the sake of keeping it real:

Sunday: homemade sausage pizza and salad

Monday: fried chicken salad (my attempts to use up some frozen chicken strips and a motley crew of other assorted salad fixings)

Tuesday: spaghetti bolognese and salad

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: chicken tacos (with the frozen half of last week’s rotisserie chicken), chips and salsa

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: looks like a travel day for me!

That’s it and that’s all, dear readers. Happy Monday and have a great week!


Rachel C said...

I am so excited to make this. I've nvmever made bread or used yeast before, but this seems like the perfect opportunity to try. And it's a good excuse to spend the afternoon baking and drinking wine. :-)

Sarah said...

@Rachel, it's TOTALLY a great excuse to drink wine in the kitchen all day :) Do it, go for it! It's SO CHEAP to make (compared to expensive bakery breads), it makes my house smell good, I feel so accomplished and homemakery, AND... it's carbs, so of course it tastes good :) If you are feeling intimidated by the long rise times, I encourage you to try the no-knead focaccia I've featured here before. I make it practically once a week because I use it for EVERYTHING... breadsticks, sandwiches, pizza "crust". It's a great way to introduce yourself to yeasty magic!