After I baked my first loaf of bread, I was pretty proud of myself. It may not have looked perfect but I thought that it tasted wonderful. So that gave me confidence to try something new and challenging. To me that meant adding more ingredients!
The recipe that I tried came out of Ed Wood’s Classic Sourdoughs revised A home Baker’s Handbook. I found the Herb Bread recipe and thought this would be wonderful. I had some fresh herbs (which my gardening is neck in neck with my ability to bake or cook) out back that would be perfect for this recipe.
The results were amazing. I have to say it is my favorite bread that I have made yet. I love it with pasta, steak, pork, it just seems to go with anything that you eat. It isn’t an overwhelming taste. You can use fresh or dried herbs. I am learning too that I can change the taste by adding more or changing thing up. I also made too long French type loaves. That is the great thing about this whole baking business, I am learning that experimenting is part of the process. Yield one 1 ½ pound loaf.
1 cup sourdough culture
1 tbsp butter
1 cup milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed dried basil
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Pour the culture into a mixing bowl. Melt the butter and add the milk to warm. Stir in the salt, sugar, thyme, oregano, and basil and stir. Add the butter mixture to the culture and mix well. Add the flour a cup at a time until the dough becomes too stiff to mix by hand. Turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and satiny.
Or mix and knead all of the ingredients for a maximum of 25 minutes in a bread machine or other mixer.
Proof the dough overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature, about 70°F, in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap (or leave in the machine pan, removed from the machine, securing the plastic wrap with a rubber band). During this time, the dough should double in size in the covered bowl, or rise to the top of the machine pan. After the proof, use a spatula to gently ease the dough out onto a floured board. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. If marked flattening occurs during this time, knead in additional flour before shaping.
After the 30-minute rest, shape the dough. Flatten it slightly, then lift a portion from the periphery and pull it toward the center. Continue this around the dough mass to form a rough ball, then pat and pull into the loaf shape you desire. Place on a baking sheet or in a bread pan and proof for 2 to 4 hours, until it doubles in bulk or rises nearly to the top of the pan. Proof for the first hour at room temperature and then at 85° to 90°F in a proofing box.
Place the pan with its shaped, proofed loaf in a cool oven, then turn the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 70 minutes. Or transfer the loaf to a preheated baking stone in a 450°F oven and bake for 40 minutes. When the loaf is baked, remove it from the pan and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.
I love this bread with just butter, olive oil, bread dipping oil and the list goes on. It is a good thing that I have these sourdough starters from Sourdoughs International and Ed’s advice because I am a bread lover. It is so fun to learn all these different ways to make bread. Happy baking.