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Homemade Italian Bread with Herbs

The aroma of fresh-baked bread is almost as satisfying to me as biting into it. I love to bake bread and one of my favorite recipes is also the healthiest because it doesn’t call for any egg or butter.  “Italian Bread with Herbs” is modified from the Zojirushi Cookbook that came with my bread maker.

I make the dough in the bread maker and form my own shapes rather than bake one large square loaf in the machine. Most often I make four small or two large loaves and sprinkle herbs on top. You can use other seasonings or none at all if you prefer the bread plain.

If you don’t have a bread maker you can mix and knead the dough by hand. Directions are at the end of this recipe. I’d love to hear from you if you try this recipe or have another one you prefer.

Italian Bread with Herbs

Ingredients for Bread Dough: 1 ½ cups water 4 ¼ cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour) 2 tablespoons sugar 1 ½ teaspoons salt 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast or 1 tablespoon Rapid Rise Yeast

Topping: 2 tablespoons melted butter Sea Salt Pepper Herbs de Provence

  • Spray or butter a double French bread pan or pans of your choice.

  • Add all the ingredients in the order above to the bread maker. Set it on the dough setting.

  • When the cycle is complete, remove the mixed and risen dough from the bread maker and place onto a floured board.

  • Cut the dough into two to four segments for loaves (or more for rolls). Form each into a long roll (or other desired shapes).

  • Slightly slash across the top. Slashes should be about a fingers width apart.

  • Place formed dough in pans. Cover with a towel. Allow to rise about 45 minutes to an hour.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • Carefully brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter. Sprinkle generously with sea salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence.

  • Bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

*Directions for mixing and kneading dough without a bread maker:

  • In a mixing bowl, warm the water and add the yeast until dissolved.

  • Add the remaining ingredients. Mix the combined ingredients in a stand mixer using bread hooks until the dough forms together.

  • Knead on a floured board until the dough is smooth and elastic.

  • Place the dough into a greased bowl. Allow to rise for about 1 ½ hours.

  • Punch the dough down, make the shapes, raise the dough again, and bake as instructed above.

©Mary K. Doyle

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