Baking bread has become a regular passtime on the Ealy Homestead.
I think baking bread is one of those things that looks harder than it really is. There’s a mystery about it when observing from afar. But when you finally draw up enough courage to pull near, to reach in and give baking bread a try, that mystery quickly fades and is replaced by exhilaration.
Try me. I promise that baking your own bread will become an obsession once you give it a whirl. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a reason never go back to the store bought bread again.
Pesto Herb French Bread
- 2 1/4 teaspoon active yeast (I used SAF Instant Yeast for this recipe)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup fresh pesto
- 3 tablespoons Oregano
- 3 tablespoons crushed Echinacea
- Add yeast, sugar and water in your mixing bowl. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes, or until bubbles start to appear. This means your yeast has started to activate.
- Add salt, pesto, Oregano and Echinacea. Carefully mix in the flour. I like to use our Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a dough hook, because it’s quick work. Mix until dough is smooth. It’ll be slightly wet, but shouldn’t stick to the bowl.
- Knead your dough on a floured surface for a few minutes, but don’t overwork the dough. Form it into a ball and then move it to your proof basket, or a large bowl. Cover with a towel and let proof until its doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 460 degrees.
- After your dough has proofed, you’re going to work it again on a floured surface. Be careful not to completely deflate the dough. I like to pull the dough at the ends and then fold inward. Then rotate and do it again from the other side. Form into a final ball and let sit to double in size again. I’ll let the dough proof it’s final time in the dutch oven so I don’t have to handle it again. Make sure you spray the dutch oven well, or use parchment paper.
- When your dough is ready, use a knife to score the top of the bread. 3 slices will do, about 3/4 inch deep. Then cover the dutch oven with a lid. Bake at 460 degrees for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the crust is a dark brown.
- Remove bread and let it cool on a baker’s rack. Let your bread sit (if you can) for at least 10 minutes and then enjoy with plenty of butter!
- I’ve learned that the first step to great bread is to have a very hot oven. So let your oven heat up well over an hour. Seriously.
- I use a variety of dutch ovens, both cast iron and enamel. I LOVE baking bread in these because you get that chewy, crusty crust and it helps to keep the bread from burning.
- The herbs I used can easily be swapped for other herbs you might have on the shelf. Basil, thyme, rosemary or parsley would all work well with the pesto. Feel free to experiment.
- Echinacea in bread? Yes. It’s good. And good for you!
Ready to try it? Let us know what you think. Share pics of your bread with us on our Instagram or Facebook pages, or leave a picture in the comments below. Let’s build a community of bread makers!