Italian Herb Bread

I made this today to serve with the Butternut Squash Soup.  It was easy and really yummy.  I even uttered the words “who needs Trader Joe’s and Panera with this stuff?  Oh, wait – ME!”

I got the recipe that I based this off of from Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand.   The book has detailed instructions if you want to mix by hand, mixer, or food processor, or use a bread machine.  I mix with mixer and bake in the oven, so these are the directions for that.

1 cup water
1 1/2 T EVOO
2 t mixed Italian herbs (I used Penzey’s pasta sprinkle)
1 T sugar (I used brown…was out of white)
1 t salt
1/4 cup prepared pesto sauce
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 2/3 cups bread flour (or all-purpose)
1 1/2 T gluten (especially if using AP flour)
1 1/2 t rapid rising or active dry yeast

Heat water until between 105 and 115F, pour into warmed mixing bowl, and add herbs, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Let stand 5 minutes, until yeast begins to bubble.  Add oil, pesto and whole wheat flour.  Beat until smooth.  Cover and let stand 15 minutes.  Slowly add bread (or AP) flour, and beat until a soft dough forms.  Knead with dough hook, on medium to high, adding flour as necessary, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and springy but still soft to the touch.  Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl, and let dough rise for about 1 hour, until doubled.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured board or lightly oiled surface.  Punch the dough down and shape into a baguette or round loaf.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or cover with parchment paper.  Place the loaf, with the smooth side up, onto the baking sheet.  Cover and let rise in a warm place, until almost doubled – 45-60 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375.  Using a sharp knife, slit the top of the loaf and brush it with water.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until the loaf is golden.  Cool on wire rack.

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