Oh goodness. Make this bread. Just make it. I even screwed it up a little and didn't add enough sugar, and it is still one of the most delightful things I have ever made.
I got the recipe from alexandra's kitchen, which is for the just plain Peasant Bread. I had a couple stalks of rosemary that the lovely, nice man from the produce stand gave to me, so I added a huge amount of fresh rosemary to the recipe; is there such a thing as too much rosemary?
To start, boil about a cup of water. Once its boiling, measure out 1.5 cups cold water, and combine it with half a cup of the boiling water in a small bowl. Add 1 tbsp. of sugar, and 1 packet of yeast, but do not stir. Let that sit for about 10 minutes, until it gets foamy. While the yeast is sitting, measure out 4 scant cups of all-purpose flour, and mix that up with 2 tsp. kosher salt. Stir the yeast mixture, then add it to the flour mixture.
Use a wooden spoon or spatula to mix it together. The dough will be quite wet and maybe a little slimy; don't worry about that, because you don't have to knead it! At all!! Cover the bowl with a moistened tea towel, and allow it to rise for between 1 to 2 hours. (I usually just moisten the tea towel with hot hot hot water, cover the bowl with it, and put it in the oven to rise. Obviously, I do not turn the oven on for this step.)
While that is rising, you should butter your bowls. Yes, this bread bakes up in any oven-safe bowl. I used one bowl, and 1 loaf pan, because this is enough to make two loaves. Really butter whatever bowls you are using. When you think you've used enough butter, add more butter. The butter makes the bottom of the loaf crispy and golden, and makes sure that the loaf will slide right out.
Now, once your dough has risen, add the rosemary (if you'd like).
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with two forks, and kind of pull the outside of the dough over onto the middle of itself, to incorporate the rosemary. Then, use the forks to separate the dough into two parts. Like I said, the dough it a little slimy, so be quick when you transfer the dough into its baking bowl. Cover these bowls again, and let the dough rise for about another hour. It should be level with the rim of its bowl.
*This is where I discovered my mistake. This stuff just wouldn't rise to the rim of the bowl! Turns out, I had only added 1/2 tbsp. of sugar to the yeast mixture, when I should have added 1 whole tbsp. And doesn't yeast kind of feed off of sugar to puff up the bread? I'm pretty sure that's the scientific explanation.*
Once your bread has risen properly (because you read instructions and measure carefully, unlike your ditzy pal), preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pop your dough in there, and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees, and cook for about 22 - 25 minutes more. Remove them from the oven, and turn them out onto a cooling rack.
This is the bread upside-down. See all that golden crispiness? That's your butter working for you.
Turn the bread over, and run just a little bit more butter of the top, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt (if you want to).
I am not kidding when I say that this is some of the best bread I have ever tasted. It's crispy and buttery on the outside, and chewy and soft on the inside. Just make it. I'm begging you.