This is my favorite bread to make at home when we're having soup for supper. I find it really easy to make and it tastes delicious. Your family will love you and think you're amazing if you make bread from scratch. Trust me. Here's the recipe.
Italian Split Herb Loaf
makes 1 loaf
4 cups white flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb mix (I use my own dried Basil, Oregano, a little Rosemary, and thyme)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 ounce fresh yeast
1 1/8 cups lukewarm water
2 tablespoons melted butter
For the topping:
1 egg white
pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon Italian herb mix
To begin, you'll need to lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, herbs, and sugar. Make a well in the center. Mix the yeast with the water, stirring until the yeast has dissolved. Pour the yeast and water into the flour. Stir in enough flour to make a runny batter. Sprinkle more of the flour on top, cover, and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes until a "sponge" starts to bubble and rise.
Add the melted butter and gradually mix in with the remaining flour to form a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap, and let rise again in a warm place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. Make sure to save the oiled plastic wrap because you will need it again. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Shape into an oval and place on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the egg white over the loaf.
With a sharp knife, slash along the length of the bread. You can see that my dough had an air bubble in it that gave it a dimple. Don't worry. Dimples are cute.
Sprinkle the Italian herb mix and the sea salt over the top of the bread. Take care to not put too much salt on top of the bread, as the bread already has some in it. Overly salty bread is bad news.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 10 more minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire wrack to cool. Don't forget to embrace the dimple if your loaf sports one.
Slice and enjoy!
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