Whole Wheat Herb Bread

I love making bread and this is one of my favorite recipes as you can add almost any kind of herb you prefer and it doesn’t take much experience in bread-making to get it right. Most of the ingredients are common pantry items and there’s no bread machine or starter required. It’s best right out of the oven with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some grated parmesan cheese. The recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens ‘New Baking Book.

1 1/3 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
-The temperature of the water is important because it needs to be hot enough to dissolve the yeast and get it active but not too hot to kill it. It should be hot but you also don’t want to add boiling water to the mixture. I usually let my sink run on the hottest temperature for a minute or two before measuring out the water.
1 package active dry yeast
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. snipped fresh sage
-You can use any kind of herbs you have lying around. I prefer to add some Rosemary as well. If you’re using dried herbs, be sure to halve the measurement as dried herbs tend to have a stronger flavor when used in doughs like this.
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, oil, sage, salt and sugar. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.

2. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the whole wheat flour, about 1.2 cups at a time. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour, a little at a time; stir until most of the flour has been absorbed and the dough begins to form a ball. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining all-purpose flour to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (about 6-8 minutes). Shape dough into a ball. Place in a lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease the surface. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (45 to 60 minutes)

3. Punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Dover’ let rise for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet. Shape dough into a 8X4 in oval loaf. Place on prepared baking sheet. Sprink with additional flour. Cover’ let rise until almost double. (30 to 45 minutes)

4. Using a sharp knife, slash top of loaf several times, making each cut about 1/2 inch deep. Place in a 425 degree oven. For a crisp crust, brush loaf with cold water every 3 minutes for the first 9 minutes of baking. After 9 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. lightly sprinkle bread with additional flour. Bake about 20 minutes more or until bread sounds hollow when you tap top. Transfer to wire rack; cool.


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