I fell in love with bread baking about 5 or 6 years ago. I found a simple recipe, learned the basics and then let my imagination go with different variations.
And today...even though our California temp is hovering somewhere around 300 degrees, I chose to crank up the oven to 400 and BAKE! :)
Debbie's Bread Wreath
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast
3 1/2 c. bread flour
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2 Tbsp. olive oil (plus more to coat bowl)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 egg white
about a tsp. of water
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, stir together warm water, yeast and sugar. Mix well, then let it sit about 10 minutes to let the yeast "bloom."
To this, add about 2 cups of flour, olive oil, salt and 1 tsp. of rosemary (reserve the rest for the top). Using bread dough attachment, mix well adding remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time.
Once combined and dough is pulling away from the sides, turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead about 10-15 times. Meanwhile, drizzle a little more olive oil in large bowl. Form kneaded dough into ball and place in bowl making sure to coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place. Allow it to rise until doubled in size (approx. 1 hour).
Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead about 10 to 12 times. Divide dough into 3 equal amounts. Roll each one out to roughly 16-18 inches long and braid.
Once braided, bring ends around to form a circle. I placed a large biscuit cutter in the center (coated the edges of the biscuit cutter with a little olive oil first) to keep the center open as it bakes.
Allow to rise about 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, prepare egg wash; 1 egg white beaten with a little water.
Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sea salt and remaining rosemary. Bake at 400 approximately 20-22 minutes. (NOTE: I turned the pan about half-way through baking to sort of even out the color). Bread will be a gorgeous golden brown color. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire rack. Carefully remove biscuit cutter (or whatever you use to keep the center open) with a pot holder or utensil.
Once cooled, you could serve with an assortment of fruits and cheeses - whatever you wish.