Braided Herb Bread

Braided Herb Bread

Braided Herb Bread

 As fall begins, and the weather gets cooler, I find myself baking more bread. This is one of my favorite recipes. The mix of herbs, garlic and shallots gives this bread great flavor. I like to toast it and spread with a little butter. It also makes a wonderful sandwich bread.  Works well for croutons and as bruschetta, too. You can bake the dough in 9×5 -inch loaf pans, if you want a more traditional shaped bread.

Braided Herb Breads

5 ½ -6 ½ c. flour
2 packages quick rising yeast
½ c. sauteed, minced shallots or onions*
2 T. each dried marjoram and parsley
1 T. each dried oregano and minced garlic
1 T. honey
2 t. dried thyme
2 t. salt
¼ c. olive oil
2 ¼ c. hot water

In a mixing bowl combine 2 c. of flour with the rest of the ingredients and mix until smooth. Beat with electric mixer 4 minutes then add 1-cup additional flour and beat 1 minute longer. Stir in flour ½ cup at a time until soft dough forms. Turn onto surface and knead, adding flour gradually until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in lightly greased bowl and turn to cover. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Turn dough onto surface and cut in half. Cut each half into thirds. Roll each piece of dough into an 18-inch rope. Loosely braid three ropes together and repeat with the remaining dough. Place on greased baking sheet and cover until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when tapped lightly. Makes 2.

* I cook the shallots or onions in a little oil or butter, then cool before adding to the dough.

Variation: Whole wheat: Add 2 cups of whole-wheat flour to replace 2 cups of white flour. Also try adding ¼ c. of wheat germ, oat bran or 2 tablespoons of seeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, etc.)
Regular yeast can be used, but rising times will be longer and water should be warm, not hot.

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