I decided to follow a recipe adapted by one of my sisters, Margaret, for some bread with Italian herbs and garlic. Margaret is the sister I visit when I go to Canada each year, though sadly not this year and we all know why. She has a very good book of bread machine recipes and she took one of those recipes and adapted it for use manually or with a stand mixer. It is a basic white bread with some Italian herbs and some powdered garlic added. Although the original recipe was for a single loaf the adapted version was used to create two smaller loaves. That appealed to me since making a full sized loaf to eat by myself would mean the bread would be a bit stale by the time I finished eating it. With two smaller loaves one can be frozen, for use later, while the other can be eaten within a couple of days.
The recipe itself is very simple and doesn’t take too much time to make. As for herbs, although I used an Italian Herb mix (dried herbs) and powdered garlic, things can be varied to suit taste and what is available in store cupboards. For instance oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil etc or Herbs de Provence would all work well. Fresh garlic too, crushed and minced very finely could be used instead of the powdered version. Indeed onion powder could also be used, I think, and still give a great flavour to the bread.
Although the recipe below details precise volumes of ingredients these may need to be varied slightly too, since flour varies in how absorbent it is, so sometimes a little more flour or a little less liquid is required to achieve the consistency of dough required. For this bread the dough needs to be worked until it is quite elastic and is not wet and sticky. Although a wetter dough will still work better results will be achieved if the dough is not sticky, since it will hold its’ shape better when being left to rise before baking.
My bread turned out very well. The flavour was so good, with the taste of the herbs and a hint of garlic coming through too. I should say that you can vary the amount of herbs, depending on taste. I like a very herby bread so 2 tbsp of my dried mix was perfect for me. Some people may like a little less, it is all a matter of taste.
- 500g(4 cups) strong white bread flour(plain/all purpose will work too if necessary)
- 300ml(1 1/4 cups) warm water (41C-43C/105F-110F)
- 7g(2 1/4 tsp) active dried yeast
- 7g (1 1/2 tsp) salt
- 12g (1 tbsp) sugar
- 15ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
- 2 tbsp Italian Herbs(dried) or herbs of choice
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- Take about 60ml, about 1/4 cup, of water from the 300 ml and set aside.
- Add the sugar into the remaining water and stir.
- Sprinkle the yeast over the sugared water and stir, then leave to activate for about 10 minutes, until the liquid has become frothy.
- Place the flour, herbs, garlic and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer(you can do it all by hand if you wish) and mix around to combine.
- Attach the dough hook to the mixer and start on a low speed.
- Pour the oil into the activated yeast mixture and slowly pour it into the flour, mixing on slow until it all comes together.
- Increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until the dough has come cleanly away from the bowl and it is elastic and just slightly tacky. If necessary add more water, from the retained 60ml to ensure the dough all comes together. You may not need all of the water, I used a total of about 290ml.
- If the dough remains sticky add more flour, a little at a time until you have the consistency required, elastic and not sticky.
- Remove the dough from the bowl of the stand mixer and knead it a few times on the counter, lightly floured if required, and then form into a ball turning in the hand to create a little tension. The dough should be quite smooth.
- Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat in oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Then stand in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
- Tip the dough out onto the work surface and knock the air out.
- Divide into two equal pieces and shape into rounds or oblongs, whichever you prefer. Again trying to create some tension in the dough as you form it.
- Place each shaped loaf onto a baking tray that is lined with parchment paper(or sprinkled with a little cornmeal/semolina.
- Cover with damp towels and allow to rise again, for about an hour.
- As the hour comes to an end preheat the over to 190C/170C Fan/375F.
- Uncover the shaped dough and use a sharp knife to cut some slashes into the top.
- Gently brush a little olive oil over the top of the dough.
- Place the dough into the oven and baked for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and check that the bread is baked, tapping the bottom to hear a hollow sound, or testing the internal temperature(88c/190F).
- Place the loafs of a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.