My version of Italian Sesame Bread

Yesterday was a lazy Saturday for me.  I can't remember the last one I had where I didn't have a ton to do around the house and a billion errands that needed to be run.  I did get some English muffins made, we were down to our last one.  And I did get the house cleaned up a little but that was about the extent of my ambition for the day.

It's very cold here this week with highs in the single digits and below zero wind chills.  I knew we were having salmon for dinner and since I didn't have anywhere I had to be, I had time to make bread.

I searched the Cook's Illustrated, Red Star Yeast and King Arthur Flour websites for something new to try.  I even did a little wandering around Pinterest.  Many of the recipes called for an 8 or 12 hour starter.  I didn't have that much time.  I wanted to make bread today!  So I settled on a recipe for "Italian Sesame Bread" from King Arthur Flour.  It only required a few hours of raising time, not an overnight starter.  Plus it was a braided bread, something I don’t think I’ve done before.

Here is a link to the recipe:
King Arthur Flour Italian Sesame Bread

The recipe called for a couple of ingredients I didn’t have, European-Style Artisan Bread Flour (the recipe said unbleached all-purpose could be used, I had that), “Easy-Roll Dough Improver”, whatever that is and “Bread Shine” which is like an egg wash so I used the egg wash.

I checked out the King Arthur Flour site on the dough improver.  Supposedly it helps you roll out dough smoothly and easily with no shrinking or snapping back.  I sure could have used that when I made the flatbread!  I may have to add that to my next KAF order!  It might be fun to try the artisan bread flour too just to see if it makes a difference.

This was a really easy dough to throw together.  All of the ingredients are mixed together at the same time.  I used my trusty Kitchenaid!   The recipe calls for a little olive oil.  I decided to add some garlic infused oil from, you guessed it, my favorite place The Olive Grove Olive Oil Company.  It smelled so good I decided I would add some roasted garlic to the bread too!  

After just a few minutes of kneading I had a nice elastic dough.

The first rise was two hours.  While the dough was rising, I roasted a head of garlic.  If you are a gadget addict like I am you have a nice terra cotta garlic baker.  If not, a little aluminum foil will work.  I cover mine with oil and bake it at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes.  Your nose will tell you when it’s done!

I placed the roasted garlic and a little more olive oil in my mortar and pestle and made a nice paste.  I just love the sweet aroma of roasted garlic!

After the first rise the dough is split into three pieces.

Each piece is rolled into a long cylinder so they can be braided.

Before I braided my dough I brushed it with the roasted garlic paste I made earlier.

The dough is then braided on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or you can use a little cornmeal).  Here’s a shameless product plug.  I bought these pre-cut parchment sheets from King Arthur Flour right before Christmas.  With the number of Christmas cookies I usually do, I decided to splurge and get them thinking I’d use them this Christmas and go back to buying the cheaper rolls of parchment.  Well it turns out not only do I love the convenience of these sheets, they are of better quality than the parchment I had been buying in the grocery store and you can reuse them in some cases (if you haven’t made something that gets them too dirty).  I’m addicted.

After the second rise, the dough is brushed again with egg white and the toppings are added.  The recipe called for toasted sesame seeds or whole flax seeds.  I use flax seeds in the Everyday Bread I make so I had them in the house.  But I also had King Arthur Flour’s Harvest Grains Blend in the house and I thought I would like that better.

I popped this beauty into the oven and twenty minutes later I had this beautiful loaf of bread!  The house smelled wonderful!  Can you beat the smell of fresh baking bread and roasted garlic?

I will definitely make this bread again.  I can make it fit whatever I am making based on what I put on top of it; Italian seasoning, rosemary, cheese?

It went perfectly with our salmon dinner!


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