I am very fond of this bread recipe. It was the very first recipe I ever made that used yeast and I made it for the first time when I was 13 years old. I was very new to cooking and baking and I did it all by myself without help from my mom (who as far as I know has never baked bread) or a stand mixer. The bread turned out very well for a first try, my family loved it and when I took it to school for lunch I ended up giving most of it away to friends who wanted to try it. Over the next couple of years I made it 3 or 4 times, but sadly have not made it since. This morning though I was thinking about the bread I used to make, googled the name, and found it on this blog! I practically rushed into the kitchen to get started and am happy to say that the bread is just as yummy as I remember.
The original recipe is named "Ocean's Bombs of Love Bread" and is completely vegan. It calls for vegetable oil rather than olive oil, no rosemary, and no oil or salt on top. You could easily use vegetable oil and leave out the rosemary and salt to get a very tasty whole wheat bread. The huge majority of wheat bread recipes only call for a little bit of whole wheat flour because whole wheat flour just doesn't work as well for bread, but I think the multiple rises and kneadings help with that because the resulting bread is tender and delicious.
The original recipe description encourages the baker to incorporate whatever dried fruit, seeds, nuts, or spices they wanted, and that first time I made it I remember sniffing through all of my mom's bottles of dried herbs and deciding on rosemary. My passionate love of rosemary was kindled that day! I think the bread could also be very good with roughly chopped kalamata olives or sun dried tomatoes kneaded in during the last kneading, and if the loaves were formed into rounds instead of baked in bread pans since you'd get more surface area for the olive oil and kosher salt topping. I'll update the recipe if I ever get around to trying those things, been wanting to try them ever since I first made the recipe but for this first revisit I wanted to make it the old way. I can say with confidence that I will definitely make this bread again many times and I wish I hadn't stopped making it!
Quick note: To make a warm spot for my dough to rise, turn the oven to 300 degrees for 45 seconds, then turn it off. With my oven at least, this makes the perfect place for bread to proof. When you let the sponge rise, I suggest turning the oven on again for 20 seconds 45 minutes in to warm things up again. Also, here is a good video that shows how to knead dough if you aren't familiar with it.
Rosemary Wheat Bread
1 C lukewarm water
1 packet yeast (2 1/4 t)
4 T maple syrup, divided
4 T extra virgin olive oil, plus a bit more
2 C lukewarm water
2 t salt
7+ C whole wheat flour, divided
2-3 t crushed dried rosemary (I use 3 b/c I love rosemary!)
Optional: kosher salt or crushed sea salt
In a large bowl, stir together 1 C lukewarm water, the yeast, and 1 T
of the maple syrup. Cover with a dish towel and let proof 10 minutes.
Mixture should look creamy. Stir in remaining maple syrup, water,
salt, and 4 C of the flour until smooth. It will look like a thick
batter. Cover again with the dish towel and let rise in a warm place until
doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Add dried rosemary, then 3 C flour, one cup at a time. Stir at
first, then use your hands (or a stand mixer with a dough hook if you
have one) when it becomes too hard to stir. Add more flour 1/4 C at a
time if necessary to make a smooth, very slightly tacky dough (I ended
up adding 1 C extra). Knead by hand (don't use your stand mixer, it's too hard on the motor) until dough is smooth and elastic,
about 5 to 10 minutes depending on how good you are at kneading! Place
dough ball into the bowl you were using earlier and coat lightly with
oil, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until
doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Punch dough down, divide into two balls, and knead each ball of
dough for about 5 minutes (you can use your stand mixer for
this, if you do only knead 2 to 3 minutes). Shape each ball into a log and place in lightly greased 9 by 5
bread pans, pressing dough into corners. Cover with greased plastic
wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough has risen half an inch
above the edge of the pans, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake loaves until a toothpick
inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Cover the loaves with aluminum foil, shiny side up, if they start to get
too browned. Remove loaves from oven and brush them with
a bit of olive oil. If you're planning to serve the bread that day, sprinkle on some kosher salt or crushed sea
salt but leave it off otherwise or the salt will draw moisture from the bread and form little water droplets on top. Let loaves cool 10 minutes in the pans, then turn them out onto a
cooling rack. The bread is delicious served warm, but be sure to let
it cool completely before wrapping it up to store on the counter for a
couple of days or in the freezer wrapped in a double layer of aluminum
Yield: 2 loaves