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Roasted Garlic Bread

Roasted Garlic Bread
A sponge, or starter, is a mixture of flour, water and yeast. Initially, it has the texture of a thick batter, but after it stands for 8 to 10 hours, it becomes a bubbling, damp mass that resembles a sponge. When a sponge is added to a bread dough, the strands that have developed add a chewy, airy texture and intense flavor to the bread.

The dough in this recipe is very moist, so work with it on a generously floured surface using well-floured hands. After each proofing stage, the dough does not need to be punched down or worked with very long. Simply turn it out onto the floured surface and work the dough gently with your hands until it is soft and smooth. Then return it to the bowl for proofing. For the final rise, place the dough in a stoneware baker.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp. plus 1 Tbs. active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs. water
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2/3 cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 1/4 cup roasted garlic paste
  • 1 Tbs. salt

Directions:

Have all ingredients at room temperature.

To make the sponge, in a bowl, dissolve the 1/4 tsp. yeast in 3/4 cup of the water. Add 1 cup of the bread flour and 1/4 cup of the whole wheat bread flour and stir until blended. Let the mixture stand at room temperature until it rises and crests, 8 to 10 hours. The surface will be bubbly and shiny.

To make the dough, dissolve the 1 Tbs. yeast in 1/2 cup of the water. Then add the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. water to the sponge and stir to loosen.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the remaining 2 cups bread flour, the 2/3 cup whole wheat bread flour, the garlic paste, sponge, yeast mixture and salt. Using the dough roller or dough hook, knead on medium speed for 4 minutes. Increase the speed to high and knead for 4 minutes more.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Using a pastry scraper and floured hands, shape and fold the dough until smooth. Return it to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise again.

Preheat an oven to 500ºF.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. With floured hands, shape the dough into a rectangular loaf about 12 inches long. Transfer it to a floured rectangular stoneware baker, cover with the lid and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Reduce the heat to 450ºF. Transfer the baker to the oven and bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the crust is deeply browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 15 minutes more.
Makes 1 loaf.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.