Tuscan Herb Bread is one of my favorite savory herb bread recipes full of flavor and easy to make. Flavored with parmesan reggiano cheese, fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Two shareable loaves perfect for dipping into olive oil and pairing with your favorite dishes.
Every time I eat this bread I am transported back to Tuscany. The farms, cobble stone streets, the beautiful language, and oh the amazing food! Window baskets overhanging with herbs or flowers, street markets filled with baked goods and fresh vegetables.
I want you to enjoy the same Tuscan flavors I love so much through a slice of warm bread dipped in olive oil. You don’t have to go to a bakery or a an Italian restaurant to find some. Just make it yourself. This recipe is a great introduction to first time bread bakers. The result is a perfectly balanced loaf to accompany your pasta, salad, or meat dishes.
Proofing the Dough
Baking bread requires time and a little patience. This loaf is gets its tangy flavor by incorporating a slow cold proof with a warm proof period. Proofing or Proving your dough is a technique where dough is allowed to ferment, creating carbon dioxide that makes the dough rise. During this time the yeast is reacting with the starch from the flour. In this case we are allowing time for several proofs before baking.
Prepare the Yeast
The first proof is for the active dry yeast. When you add warm water to the yeast and sugar, it reacts and creates a frothy film. This means the yeast is alive and ready to work with the starch. Careful not to add hot water it will kill the yeast.
The second and third proves are for the dough itself. Once the dough has been made, kneaded and placed in an air tight container, it is left to rise. I place my dough in a draft free warm location where the temperature will aid in helping the dough to double in size.
This next step is optional, but I do love the added flavor it gives to the dough.
After the first rise, I place the covered bowl in the refrigerator for 4 days for a slow cold proof. The dough will rise and fall while its in the fridge and that’s totally normal. By allowing the dough to ferment for several days it will create more flavor from the herbs and cheese, plus take on a tangy not like that of sourdough.
If you want to skip this step, simply divide the dough, shape into two loaves and proceed with final rise before baking.
Shaping and Final Rise
When its baking day, remove the dough from the fridge and slowly press down a fist into the dough to remove air. Weigh and divide the dough in half. Shape each dough ball into an oval and place them on medium parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheets.
Allow these dough loaves to come to room temperature and double in size. They, will stretch more outwardly rather than in height. Once ready they will rise in he oven while. baking.
Tools for Making Bread
- Stand Mixer with dough hook attachment ( or just use your hands)
- warm window or draft free area to allow your dough to prove (rise)
- two rimmed baking sheets
What are Tuscan Herbs?
How to Store Homemade Yeast Bread
Store leftover bread in an air tight paper bag at room temperature.
Tuscan Herb Bread
- 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 ½ cups (240 grams) warm water (105-110 F)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3 ¾ cups (439 grams) bread flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
- ¼ cup Parmigiano–Reggiano cheese finely grated
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (Tuscan Blue) finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (French Thyme) finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh Italian oregano finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for coating bowl and brushing on dough
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water. Gently stir together with handheld whisk. Then, let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
- Using a large mixing bowl, whisk together the bread flour, salt, grated Parmigiano–Reggiano cheese and herbs.
- Turn the mixer onto medium low speed and slowly spoon in the flour mixture.
- Once dough starts to form increase to medium high.
- Continue to work the dough for 5 minutes or until a positive "Window Pane Test" (Pinch a piece of dough off and spread with finger tips holding up to the light. If the dough stretches without breaking and you can see through the center, gluten has formed and its ready to prove.
- Gently place the soft and sticky dough into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 4 days and up to 7 days for added tangy flavor. The dough will rise and fall while its chilling, and thats totally normal.
- Remove dough bowl from fridge. Press down any excess air with a slightly floured fist. Weigh and divide the dough equally into two balls. Use lightly floured hands to form each half into a round shape.
- Place each half onto a medium sized rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover each dough ball loosely with a lightly floured tea towel and allow to warm to room temperature.
- Dough will then need time to rise again, doubling in size. this could take 1-2 hours depending on temperature of room. The dough will spread more outwardly, looking puffier, rather than growing in height.
- Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
- Now that the dough has doubled again, carefully cut a few slits across the top with a sharp knife and sprinkle with more herbs if desired.
- Place trays with dough side by side on middle rack of the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove trays from the oven and place the loaves directly onto a wire rack to completely cool.
- Slice the loaves and serve with dipping oil, cheeses, or fruit spreads.