Friday, October 1, 2010

Herb Bread

I used to really struggle with homemade bread; not only were my early efforts inedible, the bread was so hard it couldn't even be sliced. This simple recipe changed all that. I won't go as far as to say that it is fool-proof, but it's transformed me from a breadmaking failure to an old pro.

4 1/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
3 Tbs white sugar
2 (1/4 oz) packets of instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp herbes de'provence
3/4 Cup milk
1/2 Cup water
1/4 Cup salted butter
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs butter, melted


1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour with the sugar, undissolved yeast, salt and herb mixture.

2. Warm milk, water and 1/4 cup butter to between 120-130 degrees F. Use a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature is correct. This is essential!

The right temperature will activate the yeast

3. Stir milk mixture into dry ingredients.

Add egg and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.NOTE: You probably will not use all of the flour. I usually have around half a cup left over.

4. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic - about five minutes. Cover; let rest on floured surface for about 10 minutes.

5. Divide dough into three equal pieces.

6. Roll each piece into a rope about 30 inches long.

7. Braid ropes together and pinch ends to seal.

8. Tie a knot into the center of the braid; wrap ends around knot in opposite directions and tuck underneath to make a round loaf. Place on a greased baking sheet; cover and let sit in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 40 minutes. I usually put my dough in the oven with the light on, as this provides enough warmth for the dough to rise.

9. After dough has risen, heat oven to 375F and bake for 20 minutes.

10. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Cover bread with foil and put back into oven for another 10-15 minutes.

11. After bread has finished baking, place onto a wire rack to cool.


For a printable recipe, click here.

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