When the tail end of summer gives you an abundance of basil and thyme in the garden....you make mouthwatering bread! Seriously, there is a bunch out there and I hate to see all the herby deliciousness go to waste. Plus, I have been wanting to try my hand at making a bread since anything beyond simple white sandwich bread is getting costly at the store. So I stumbled upon this one from Half Baked Harvest to ensure something edible and am super proud of the results.
I mean, just look at the yummy, flaky, buttery, herby goodness! And the smell of it baking is heavenly. I am not sure why I haven't tried bread baking sooner, but whatever fear I had was unfounded. This bread uses garden surplus, simple ingredients, and an easy twist to give it that rustic elegance. My daughter actually did the artistic twisting. Served along with a hearty soup or slice and pile with prosciutto, salami, roasted red pepper, and gouda...oh that would be sandwich heaven.
You will need a couple of kitchen tools.
This bread may look intimidating, but trust me it isn't. It does need rise time as it uses yeast, but the wait is worth it. It is one that comes together in stages, so it is forgiving to my long list of tasks, chores, and kids needing help with homework questions. There is time to fit those in between.
You will need a stand mixer with a dough hook (I got to use it finally!) though you could knead by hand if you don't have one. Best of all it uses three eggs...if you have a refrigerator full of eggs like I do, you get excited for opportunities to use those up. Chicken owners understand.
You had me at herb butter.
An herb compound butter gets spread on the dough before rolling and baking, providing those beautiful green ribbons in the twist. I am telling you, I could have stopped right here and not gone further. Butter, parmesan, garlic, basil, and thyme all creamed together. It smells so good and I will definitely be making a separate bowl of this herb butter to keep in the refrigerator and spread on sandwiches, meats, and whatever else I can find. Seriously!!! So good. A little tip: use a zester if you have one for the garlic cloves vs. finely chopping. You get all the flavor and the garlic just melts into whatever recipe you put it in.
Now for the twist.
What makes this bread so beautiful is exposing the herb ribbons in a super simple twist. Once the dough has double in sized, you roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 12x18 inches. Spread the herb butter on the surface. Then make bread art in four simple steps:
Make a log by rolling the dough starting on the long edge of your rectangle. Just take your fingers and roll the dough forward, keeping it fairly tight as you roll to the other edge.
Slice the dough log in half along the center, leaving one inch uncut on one end. Turn the dough to have the herb layers face up.
Take the two halves and carefully fold over each other, "braiding" all the way down.
Make an S shape by taking one end of the braid and spiraling half the dough one direction. Then taking the other end and spiraling the opposite direction until they touch in the middle.
See pictures below. Easy Peesy.
Bake. Eat. And be merry!
Once you have your dough twisted, all that's left is to transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let rise for 45 mins. Then its time to pop in the oven and prepare to wipe drool as you smell it baking. Man oh man. This should be a candle scent.
Best eaten warm with a generous pat of butter or dipped in your favorite stew. It keeps well in an airtight container through the week...if it lasts that long.
Herb Twisted Bread:
3/4 cup warm milk (I used whole)
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons honey
3 large eggs
3 1/2 - 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to dust countertop
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons room temperature salted butter
1 - 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup basil finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Fit your stand mixer with a dough hook. In your stand mixer bowl, combine milk, yeast, honey, eggs, 3 1/2 cup flour, and salt. Mix on low until flour is completely incorporated, about 5 mins. Cube two tablespoons of the room temperature butter and add to bowl. Mix on low until combined, about 3 mins. The dough should form a ball and have a smooth surface. If sticky, add the extra 1/2 cup of flour and mix on low until smooth.
Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until double in size, about one hour.
While dough rises, combine remaining four tablespoons butter, garlic, parmesan, basil, and thyme in a small bowl. Creaming with a form works well.
Place dough on lightly floured countertop, punching it down for rolling. Roll out to a rectangle of approximately 12 x 18 inches. Spread the herb butter over the surface of the dough evenly. Roll the dough into a log. Starting at the long edge of the rectangle use fingers to roll the dough fairly tightly to the other edge. Pinch the edge to seal.
With a sharp knife, cut the dough log in half lengthwise leaving an inch uncut on one end. Turn the cuts so the herb butter layers are face up. Take the two halves and carefully fold over each other, "braiding" all the way down.
Make an S shape by taking one end of the braid and spiraling half the dough one direction. Then taking the other end and spiraling the opposite direction until they touch.
Carefully transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let rise for 45 mins.
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30-35 minus, until the surface is golden brown and bread is cooked through. Brush surface with butter for added flavor.
Recipe from www.halfbakedharvest.com.