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Rosemary Bread (Italy) Easter

ingredients

makes one large loaf
1 oz (25 g) fresh yeast or 1 tbsp dried yeast
10 fl oz (275 ml) warm water
sugar
1 tbsp salt
4 cups (1 lb) 450 g bread flour
2 rosemary sprigs
1 cup (200 g) raisins
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp caster sugar (superfine granulated)
2 tbsp sugar, dissolved in warm water

method

1. In a small bowl, put half the water and sprinkle in the dried yeast. Add a pinch of sugar and leave for 15 minutes. If using fresh yeast, crumble the fresh yeast into the water, and leave for about 5 minutes.

2. Dissolve salt in the rest of the water.

3. In a mixing bowl with the flour, make a well in the centre and add the yeast mix. Mix in a little flour from the sides, add the salted water and mix to make a lumpy ball of dough.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for about five minutes until the flour and water have become evenly mixed. Dust with more flour to keep work surface dry.

5. Return to the mixing bowl, and cut a cross in the top. Cover with a cloth and leave until doubled in size (proving).

6. Gently simmer the raisins and rosemary in the oil for 10 minutes, without allowing the raisins to brown or harden. Discard the rosemary.

7. After the dough has been kneaded for the first time, gradually knead in the cooled oil and raisins, the salt and the caster sugar. Place the dough in a bowl, cover it and leave it to rise for 30 minutes.

8. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) gas 6.

9. Knead the dough again and either shape it into one loaf or into sixteen rolls. Place them on a floured baking sheet and leave them for 20 minutes.

10. Bake the loaf for 30 to 35 minutes and the rolls for 20 minutes, brushing the tops with the sweetened water halfway through.

11. Cool on wire racks.

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