Recipe: Intertwined rosemary and black pepper breads

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Total time: 2 hours, 35 minutes plus 2 hours rising time

Servings: 24 slices

Note: From Amy Scattergood. Save the bottom of the cheese box for use in step 8.

2 ( 1/4 -ounce) packages instant dry yeast, divided

2 teaspoons sugar, divided

10 to 11 cups flour, divided, plus extra for forming and dusting

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus extra for coating

1/2 cup wheat germ, divided

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided

2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Canola oil for brushing the bread

1 (4 1/2 -inch) round Brie or Camembert

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups warm water (120 to 130 degrees), 1 package yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 cup flour. Let sit 15 minutes, until it bubbles. (If the yeast doesn't bubble, start over with new yeast.)

2. With a wooden spoon or your hands, mix in 2 tablespoons olive oil, one-fourth cup wheat germ, 1 tablespoon salt, the rosemary and 3 cups flour. Gradually add up to 1 1/2 cups more flour, if needed, until the dough is well-combined and forms a loose ball.

3. Turn the dough onto a floured board or table and knead it adding more of the remaining flour as needed to prevent stickiness and taking care that the dough does not get too dry. Knead for about 10 minutes, until elastic; when the dough springs back when you poke it with your finger, you're done kneading.

4. Shape the dough into a round and put it into a bowl coated with about one-half teaspoon olive oil (turn dough to coat the surface). Cover the bowl with plastic and let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

5. Repeat steps 1 to 4, using the black pepper instead of the rosemary.

6. When the rosemary dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into three pieces. Roll the dough back and forth gently with your hands, forming a long snake. Let the dough rest for a few minutes, then roll again and allow to rest. Repeat the roll and rest procedure 3 or 4 times with each of the 3 portions of dough until each "snake" is about 32 inches long.

7. Repeat step 6 with the black pepper dough.

8. When the rosemary and black pepper doughs are each formed into three snakes of dough, wrap the round wooden bottom of the cheese box in aluminum foil, lightly oil the foil and place in the center of a large, oiled double-sheet pan. Place the three rosemary snakes on a lightly floured surface and press one set of ends together. Braid the three snakes of dough, keeping them as uniform in length as possible. Place the braid loosely around the foil-wrapped cheese-box bottom to form a circle. Trim the end of the braid on a diagonal so that it will easily attach to the second braid.

9. Braid together the three snakes of black pepper dough, trimming the front end of this braid so it will easily attach to the end of the rosemary braid. Wrap this braid loosely around the circle of the rosemary braid, continuing where the first left off. Press the ends under the entire circle when you've finished. Make sure the braids are wrapped fairly loosely, as the dough will rise before and during baking.

10. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes; meanwhile, heat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly brush the bread with oil. Bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes to 1 hour, rotating the pan after 30 minutes.

11. Cool the bread slightly, then carefully remove the foil-wrapped disc and place the wheel of cheese into the center hole. Let rest for about 10 minutes, so the cheese warms and the bread cools and settles. Slice the bread and serve on a platter or cutting board while still warm.

Each slice (without cheese): 232 calories; 7 grams protein; 44 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 3 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 282 mg. sodium.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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