One of the first proper bread-baking books I bought (try saying that quickly!) was Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It’s a lovely book, written by a man who is clearly passionate about bread in all forms and who runs his own blog. Unfortunately I think the book was too advanced for me when I bought it, and I remember some particularly memorable failures involving bagels and brioche. As a result it’s often just sat on my shelf, occasionally thumbed through, but not often baked from. However, there is one particular bread in it that I do come back to, namely his potato and rosemary bread.
The original recipe calls for the dough to make two round loaves, but I prefer it as rolls. Ironically, these rolls were probably the least successful batch that I’ve made from the recipe, and they ended up like little UFO saucer shapes, but I have at least four explanations as to why that might be.
First, the biga I used had been sat in my freezer since I last made a batch of this bread, back in September. The intervening eight months had not been kind to it; it had been badly freezer burnt and had developed a thick crust. Undeterred I brought it up to room temperature and pulled away the crusty bits, but I doubt it would have much good left in it given the sorry state it was in.
Secondly, I subbed 60 g of the white bread flour for rye flour, which I wouldn’t have expected to make much of a difference, but it has made the crumb noticably darker than it usually is.
Thirdly, the dough was incredibly slack. This might have been due to either of the above, or I might have added too much water, but it was very difficult to shape, and the rolls flattened out dramatically as they were rising. I probably baked them a little bit early as I was concerned that I’d end up with a sheet of flat bread if I waited much longer. Partly due to the slackness there are huge holes in the crumb in places, which makes me think that it might have worked well had I shaped it like a ciabatta.
Finally, our oven clock runs five minutes faster than all the other clocks in our flat (and neither of us can figure out how to change it). Usually I remember this, but today I did not, and consequently under baked them by about five minutes, so they’re a bit gummy in the middle (despite passing the hollow-bottom tap test).
But, despite all that, they taste lovely and they filled the flat with the smell of rosemary as they were cooking. I didn’t use the optional roast garlic as I couldn’t be bothered to roast some up just for this recipe, but I’ve used it before and it does go well with the rosemary flavour.