One thing that I have in abundance this time of year is basil. It’s something I absolutely must plant, along with tomatoes, onions, swiss chard and my other herbs. For years, I’ve had this recipe for Genovese Basil Bread that I found on the King Arthur Flour website, but I just never got around to making it.
When I finally made it, it was declared absolutely yummy, so it’s an instant favorite in our house.
This recipe is made in a similar fashion to french bread, so you’ll roll out the dough with a rolling pin and then roll each piece up jelly-roll style.
The recipe makes four individual-sized loaves, so if you’ve got a hungry clan, you’ll want to make several batches!
Genovese Basil Bread
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cups Fresh Basil Leaves, coarsely chopped and lightly packed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 package dry yeast
1 cup very warm water (105-115 degres F)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a bit more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a heavy, large skillet (I love my cast iron skillets!) over low to medium heat. Add basil and garlic and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Dissolve the yeast in water in a small bowl. Let it stand for ten minutes.
Mound 2 1/2 cups of the flour onto your work surface or in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Add the dissolved yeast, basil mixture, salt and pepper to the well. Mix the ingredients that are in the well, and then incorporate the flour. Knead on a lightly floured surface until it’s elastic, adding a bit more flour if it’s sticky, for several minutes.
NOTE: You do NOT need to incorporate all 3.5 cups. Just add flour until it’s only slightly sticky. This is a sticky dough, so don’t try to add flour until it’s smooth and firm or your bread will turn out rock-hard.
Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl, turning once to coat with oil, and then cover it to let it rise until it’s doubled, about 45 minutes, depending on the warmth in the rising space.
Grease a baking sheet. Punch down the dough. Knead it on a lightly floured surface until it’s smooth, about three minutes. Cut the dough into four pieces and then roll one out on a lightly-floured surface to an 8 x 5 1/2″ rectangle. Roll it up jelly-roll style, starting at one long end. Transfer to the greased baking sheet, seam side down, then do the rest of the pieces the same way. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes, until the pieces are doubled.
While they’re rising, preheat your oven to 450 degrees farenheit. When the rolls have risen, slash the tops diagonally along the top about three times. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until they’re golden in color and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom of a roll.
Serve warm with REAL butter!