Italian herb bread, kneaded by hand this time

The fallen loafTomorrow’s our annual Beast Feast with our friends. For the uninitiated, that’s our annual dinner and gift exchange with our best friends and their kids. We make a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and they bring dessert.

So, today and this evening have been prep time. I have the brine ready for the turkey to go into and am getting as much done ahead of time as possible since we have a breakfast with friends in the morning.

Considering my track record with the bread machine and the Italian Herb Bread recipe in my Oster 5838 manual, it was with some trepidation that I began my breadmaking when Howie asked me to make that loaf for tomorrow.

So, I decided to try the recipe again, but to make it by hand this time. A friend told me the garlic might have interacted with the yeast and to try adding it later, so that’s what I did (more about that later).

Here’s ingredients again:

Italian Herb Bread
Adapted from Oster 5838 ExpressBake bread machine user manual

1 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

I more or less followed the kneading and other instructions on a forum post I found while searching for French bread recipes.

Step 1: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Let it stand until bubbly- five minutes.

Step 2: Add 1&1/2 C of the flour, and 1 t salt, and beat it by hand for a few minutes. Slowly add in the remaining flour until a soft dough forms.

Step 3: Flour the countertop and knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is springy and elastic.

Step 4: Place the dough into a greased bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until it doubles in size. This should take between 1 and 2 hours.

Step 5: Using the floured countertop, punch the dough down. Then roll it out to a 12″ by 6″ rectangle.

Step 6: Using the 12″ side, roll the dough up very tightly. Pinch the edges so that there are no gaps and gently roll the bread on the countertop so that it lengthens slightly and it is thicker at the center than on the sides.

Step 7: Sprinkle a cookie sheet with cornmeal. Put the loaf of bread onto the pan seam side down.
Step 8: Cover it and let it rise again until doubled in size. This will take about an hour.

Step 9: Gently slit the top of the bread loaf with a knife in three places.

Step 10: Bake the bread for 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes. The bread will be golden brown and will sound hollow if you tap it. Remove the bread from the cookie sheet and let cool slightly before serving.

The dough ball after it had doubled in size.I didn’t do it quite right at first. I put active dry yeast into tepid water while I measured out all the other stuff, put it all in my big bowl and stirred it with a wooden spoon until it was kind of sticking together. Then, I unceremoniously dumped the whole lot onto the lightly floured tabletop and began kneading it. I added a sprinkle of water every now and then until the dough ball began to feel more elastic and silky.

Italian herb bread before second rise.I put it in the bowl to rise, but it didn’t seem to be doing anything. I kneaded it just a little more, just for the heck of it, put it back in the bowl and covered it. I had an MRI today, so I left it rising while I was gone.

When I got home, the dough ball had done just what it was supposed to do: It had doubled in size. Yeah!

After its final rise, before baking.So, I punched it down as best I could figure since it was my first time doing so. Since I don’t have a rolling pin  (wish list!), I sort of smushed the dough outward using my fingers like you would with pizza dough. Just guessing there. I sprinkled the garlic flakes on the dough then and rolled it up into the loaf as instructed. Then, I  put it on my pizza stone atop some cornmeal and let it rise in the unheated oven, covered with a kitchen towel, for an hour. It’s fun seeing how the dough grows! I’m a kid at heart.

Okay, a drumroll please…Here is the finished loaf! Not bad looking for a first attempt at hand-kneading and all. 🙂

Finished Italian herb loaf!

I’m glad I looked when I did, because it was getting pretty brown. It is softer-crusted than the loaves I made in the bread machine, though, even though they had the same ingredients. We won’t be eating it until tomorrow, but I think should taste good since the loaves I made in the bread machine both did…Even if they did look pretty funky!

4 thoughts on “Italian herb bread, kneaded by hand this time

  1. BOY! Am I impressed…in my 75 years I have never mastered the art of making bread…including biscuits…I do OK with the right cornbread MIX…but that is the extent of my bread making….keep up the good work….Hugs and Merry Christmas to you and Howie…and Mom and Dad!! Jo

  2. Yay! Congrats, GW! Looks like success to me! When I grow up I wanna be a bread baker just like you!

    Enjoy the bread, the feast, and the time with your friends!

    Super best to you and Howie!

  3. Congrats! Homemade bread is wonderful and SPECIAL. And bread maker be damned, your hard work by hand is what truly makes this a gift of love.

  4. Thanks! Yes, I was so proud of that first real loaf and felt ten feet tall when John said it was a great looking loaf. He bakes, too, so knows what goes into it. It tasted good, too, and we only had a little bit left after they left. I had that for breakfast, toasted. 🙂 What I like best about kneading and shaping it myself is, I can make any shape loaf I want.

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