If you’ve been thinking (as I did) that adding herbs to your bread might be complicated or challenging, I have great news! It’s as easy as measuring the herbs you like and adding them to your dough.
I’m completely serious. That’s all there is to it. If there’s anything complicated about making herbed bread, it may be in selecting the herbs you want to use.
This recipe has a four-herb combination that reminds me of the seasoning in stuffing. My recipe calls for dried herbs. If you use fresh herbs, double the amounts you add. Regardless of dried or fresh, you’re going to love this bread! I recommend that you consider cubing drying thick slices to use as stuffing mix. Or seasoned breadcrumbs.
If you already have a favorite two-pound loaf bread recipe just add the herbs in the amounts listed here. You’re going to love this bread!
1 cup water, warmed to between 105 to 110 degrees (Fahrenheit)
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
¼ cup sugar, honey or maple syrup
3 ½ – 3 ¾ cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I recommend Himalayan pink salt)
1 teaspoon sage leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
1 ½ teaspoons oregano
1 ½ teaspoons basil leaves
3 tablespoons of butter or oil
If necessary (typically during the winter months), use hot tap water to heat your measuring utensil and bread machine canister before preparing your
bread dough. This usually takes just a few minutes once the hot water is placed in the utensil. When you’re ready to use them, pour the water out.
Place 1 cup of hot tap water in 2-cup measuring utensil. Add the milk and sweetener of your choice. Mix well.
If you’re using refrigerated milk and sweetener, it will significantly cool your water. Use a digital thermometer to test the mixture’s temperature. If it’s too cold, it can be heated to the proper temperature. If it’s too warm, allow it to sit at room temperature until it reaches the 105-110 degree temperature range. If too cold, you can warm it (I prefer stovetop) to desired temperature.
Once the mixture temperature is in the appropriate range, dissolve the yeast in it, by stirring thoroughly. Allow the yeast mixture to rest for 3-5 minutes. It will form a foamy “head” to indicate that the yeast is activated.
While you’re waiting for the yeast, mix your dry ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, measure flour and salt. Blend the ingredients well.
If using butter, melt it just till it’s soft enough to easily blend into the bread dough or cut into small pieces.
Pour out the warm water in your bread machine canister (if you warmed it). Carefully pour the yeast mixture into the canister, using a spatula to clear the measuring utensil. Slowly add the flour mixture. Pour the oil or melted butter on top of the flour. Select your machine settings and start the mixing/kneading process.
Once the initial kneading/mixing is complete, allow the dough to rest in the bread machine pan until the second kneading cycle is completed.
Before the second cycle completes, prepare your bread pan. If necessary, warm the pan before coating it (spraying with non-stick product, insert parchment, etc.).
After the second kneading cycle is done, gently place the dough into the coated bread pan, cover it and place it in a warm area (I use my oven, which I
heat to near 80 degrees). It will take 30-45 minutes for the dough to raise.
Once the dough is raised, place it in a pre-heated 350-degree (Fahrenheit) oven. Bake it for 30-45 minutes until the crust is nicely browned. Remove from the oven and immediately place on a cooling rack. Try to give it several minutes to cool before you cut any slices!
After the loaf is thoroughly cooled, store the bread either in a plastic bag or bread-keeper. In summer, homemade bread quickly spoils and should be refrigerated or frozen once it’s cooled.
Unless you plan to use it within 24 hours, always store homemade bread in the refrigerator. Use a plastic bag or consider investing in a bread keeper.