Two Herb Bread Recipes

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Add a little extra flavor to your dinner bread by trying out these herbed recipes.

Homemade bread fresh from the oven rates high on almost
everybody’s list of favorite foods. These two herb and
spice recipes both produce loaves that are just right to
serve with quick, light meals.

Herb Bread Recipe

Folks who enjoy gardening as well as baking can give this
recipe the added savor of homegrown flavorings. (If sage
and celery seed aren’t among your favorite herbs, you can
substitute others of your own choice, but do keep the
nutmeg: It seems to set the stage for the rest!)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup of honey
1/4 cup of oil or lard
1 tablespoon of salt
1-1/2 cups of milk, scalded
2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
1/2 cup of warm water
4 teaspoons of celery or caraway seed
2 teaspoons of ground sage
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
2 eggs
6-7 cups of whole wheat flour

Instructions:

To begin, mix the honey, salt, and shortening in a large
bowl and pour the scalded milk over them. While that
mixture is cooling, stir the dry yeast into the warm
(105-110 degrees Fahrenheit or “wrist” temperature) water until it
softens and dissolves. Add the yeast preparation to the now
lukewarm milk mix, then stir in the celery or caraway seed,
sage, and nutmeg before beating in the eggs and 2 cups of
the whole wheat flour.

Once everything is blended well, continue adding flour
until you’ve used a total of 6 to 7 cups (when the dough
begins to form a ball and “cleans” the sides of the bowl,
you’ve used enough). Then oil your hands, turn the mass out
onto a lightly floured board, and knead it for 5 to 10
minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Put the dough into a
clean, oiled bowl, turning it so that all sides are slicked. Then cover the container with greased wax paper and a thin
cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place until it
has doubled in size.

Now, punch down the risen mound, knead it again, and shape
it. Put the loaves into two greased 4-1/2-by-8-1/2-inch pans,
cover them lightly with a clean dish towel, and let them
rise again until they’ve almost — but not
quite! — doubled in bulk. Bake the bread in a preheated
350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes (it should be nicely
browned and make a hollow sound when tapped). Five minutes
or so before you expect the loaves to be done, brush the
tops with beaten egg white or milk to give them a soft
shine. 

Finnish Braided Bread Recipe

Here’s a bread that owes much of its appeal to the taste of
cardamom, an Oriental spice that’s long been prized in
Scandinavia as a flavoring for baked goods and liqueurs.

Ingredients:

1 cup of milk, scalded
1/3 cup of honey
1 tablespoon of salt
1/4 cup of oil or melted butter
2 tablespoons of active dry yeast
1/3 cup of warm water
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cardamom powder (or grind the seeds from 3 to 5 pods)
3 eggs
6-7 cups of whole wheat flour

Instructions:

To make this fragrant bread, first pour the scalded milk
into a large mixing bowl with the salt, honey, and oil or
butter. Set the hot liquid aside, and dissolve the yeast in
the warm water (as in the first recipe) before adding it to
the cooled milk mixture.

Next, stir in the cardamom and beat in the eggs. Then add 2
cups of the flour, stir it vigorously to help develop the
gluten, and continue adding flour until you’ve used a total
of 6 or 7 cups and the dough pulls away from the side of
the bowl. Turn the bread-to-be out on a floured board,
knead it for 8 to 10 minutes, and let it rise in a clean,
oiled bowl — lightly covered — until it has doubled
in size.

At that point, punch the dough down, knead it again
(briefly), and divide it in half. Cut each section into
three equal parts and roll the six pieces into long, smooth
ropes. Then braid the cables — in groups of
three — on a greased cookie sheet, making two loaves.
Let the bread rise again to almost double its size, brush
it with beaten egg or milk, and bake it in a preheated
350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 30 minutes or until its crust
is deeply golden brown.