I had a selection of cut fresh oregano, lemon thyme and tarragon sitting on the windowsill in a little jar of water and they were starting to look a little droopy. I wanted to make something that would use them all up at once and hit upon the idea of adding them to a bread dough to create a mixed herby bread. The flavours worked together in my head as lemon thyme is fragrant with a lemony scent and both oregano and tarragon work well with lemony flavours so I didn’t see why they shouldn’t all taste good mixed together. They certainly smelt lovely while I chopped them up.
I decided to make a white loaf as I wanted the herbs to be visible throughout. I also added a little dried milk powder and kamut flour which I find helps create a moist and tender crumb. As the bread was baking it released a lovely strong fragrant herby aroma, which smelt wonderful but I began to have doubts that mixing so many herbs together might not have been such a good idea. I didn’t want it to be too overpowering.After waiting for it to cool I sliced into it and was pleased to see that the herbs had stayed visible and were prettily speckled throughout the dough. I tasted a bit plain and it was soft with a nice blend of herby flavours with a very subtle lemony scent. I tried another bit spread with butter and it was delicious, almost like eating garlic bread – only without the garlic (yes I know that sounds odd!) I did a little dance around the kitchen - yay it worked! It made lovely cheese and tomato sandwiches and was also very good toasted. It’s taught me I really must be more inventive in my bread baking. I’m sure it would work with other herb combinations too – as long as they taste nice together then go for it!
Herb Speckled Bread
400g strong white bread flour
75g kamut flour (I used Doves - use chestnut, spelt or more bread flour if you can’t find it)
300-330ml warm water (not hot)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
¾ tsp fast action dried yeast
½ tbsp milk powder
4 stems of fresh oregano
4 fresh stems of lemon thyme
4 stems of fresh tarragon
Measure out the warm water and add the butter and leave it to melt and soften. Place the flours, salt, sugar, yeast and milk powder into a bowl. Pour in most of the water and mix well using your fingers until a soft and sticky dough is formed. Add more water if necessary.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes until smooth. It should still feel tacky, but not sticky.
Finely chop all the herbs until very small, but stop before thyme turn to mush. Flatten the dough slightly, sprinkle over the herbs and briefly knead to distribute them through the dough.
Place the dough into a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
After the hour, knock the dough back and shape into a rough log shape. Place in a large 2lb bread tin and allow to rise for a further 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C and bake the bread for 30-35 minutes until lightly golden and hollow sounding when tapped.
Leave to cool before slicing.
Makes 1 loaf