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Italian Rustic Herb Bread

Italian Rustic Herb Bread

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup tepid water
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
¾ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoon warm water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ¾ teaspoon finely chopped mixed herbs – (oregano, rosemary and thyme)

  • Add flour, water, oil and salt to polish, mix together to form dough. Turn out dough onto a clean surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes (I choose to do this in my Kitchen Aid, with the dough hook)
  • Add the herbs and continue to knead for another 1 to 2 minutes to incorporate the herbs. Form the dough into a ball and then transfer to a large bowl. Cover bowl with a clean, damp dishtowel and let dough rise, in a draft-free place at warm room temperature, until double in bulk, about 1 hour. (I usually turn my oven broiler on low, to warm up the oven, then I turn it off and put the dough to rise in the oven – nice and warm and draft-free!).
  • Spread a clean, dry dishtowel on work surface. Dust the work surface and dishtowel with flour. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces; roll each piece into a ball. Cover balls with a clean damp dishtowel and let it rest for 10 minutes. On work surface, stretch one ball into a 2x8 inch rectangle. With short side of rectangle facing you, fold bottom edge to center, then fold top edge to center. Press firmly with fingertips to seal seams, then fold in half, folding bottom edge over top. Pinch together all seams, then gently roll dough to create a 5-inch long loaf.

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