Ok, admittedly I’ve never actually eaten the rosemary bread at the Macaroni Grill restaurant but lately it seems like the famed bread has come up in multiple conversations I’ve had with random people. Ashamed I’d never made the much-talked about bread, I cast my memory upon a knock-off recipe my sister-in-law, Mary, sent me months ago, as well as one I had spied in a collection cookbook I’ve had for years. And I merged and adapted and variated recipes…and made the bread.
Let’s just say, this bread is definitely everything everyone said and more. Light and tender with the delicious aroma and flavor of rosemary combined with the subtle crunchy saltiness from the coarse salt, this bread is over-the-top tasty…plain or dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
It’s hard to admit to you, my friends, how many slices of this bread I ate slathered in whipped herb butter. I have always loved a good bread/butter combo but this wonderful rosemary bread pretty much exceeded all my carb cravings. And I can’t believe I’m actually admitting this, but for the first time in my entire existence, I would take a slice (or four) of this bread smothered with the garlic and herb butter concoction over an offer of dark chocolate. I’m not sure I know who I am anymore.
The bread is not complicated in the least and is free-formed, eliminating the need for bread pans – truly, it is worth making! I just hope when you make it, one of the two loaves makes it into the freezer…or to a neighbor…or to some worthy cause…because it’s all too easy to down both loaves before realizing what exactly happened.
I often use half to 3/4 finely ground white whole wheat flour with good results - and sometimes I get crazy and use 100% whole wheat flour (always finely ground white wheat) but the bread is a bit more dense with 100% whole wheat flour. If using part or all whole wheat flour, add a few minutes to the kneading time to help develop the gluten.
Update 2/25/15: I originally posted this recipe using dried rosemary. However, except for one or two times using dried, I started using fresh and the difference is noticeably delicious. If you can get your hands on fresh rosemary (usually widely available in grocery stores near the salad ingredients), definitely use it. If not, dried will work in a pinch. Reduce the amount to 1 1/2 tablespoons (using 1 tablespoon in the dough and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon on top).
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast or 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 3/4 - 4 cups all-purpose flour (see note)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped and divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Coarse salt for sprinkling
- In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer if you have one), combine the yeast, sugar and water. If using active dry yeast, let the mixture stand until foaming and bubbly, about 5 minutes. If using instant yeast, proceed with the recipe. Add two cups of the flour, salt and 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of the chopped rosemary. Mix. Continue adding flour, gradually, until a soft dough is formed. Judge the dough based on texture and feel versus how much actual flour you've had to add based on the recipe. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch but should hold it's shape while still being soft and smooth. Knead the dough by hand or with an electric mixer for 4-5 minutes, adding additional flour only if the dough is overly sticky and not clearing the sides of the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, approximately 1-2 hours, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. Once doubled, gently deflate the dough and divide in half. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, a silpat liner or lightly grease with cooking spray. Shape the dough into two smooth, oval shaped loaves and place them on the baking sheet, one on each half of the tray so they have room to rise and bake without touching. Use a brush to slather the melted butter over the top of the loaves. Continue brushing on the butter until it is gone (the loaves will be well-saturated). Sprinkle the remaining chopped rosemary over the top of the loaves, patting down gently to set into the dough, if needed. Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise again until puffy and nearly doubled, about an hour (again, the exact time will depend on temperature so judge the dough by how it looks).
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Lightly sprinkle coarse salt over the top of the loaves. Bake the loaves for 18-20 minutes until browned and baked through. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Recipe Source: adapted from a collection cookbook given to me by my sister-in-law Erin W., as well as a recipe sent to me by my other sister-in-law, Mary G.