Tuscan Herb Bread with fresh basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. You can make homemade flavorful Italian loaf bread without a bread machine.
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 love how taste can evoke a memory, especially one as magical as Florence.
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.
Tips and Tricks
Baking bread requires time and a little patience. Always allow a couple hours for your dough to prove. 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 three proofs before baking.
The first proof is for the 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 too hot of water or salt to this first step or 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. When finished with its first prove, air punched down and shaped into loaf form, a second prove is often required before baking. I tend to answer emails, play with my dogs, or have lunch during these waiting periods. The actual making of the bread is easy!
Now give it a try and let me know how it goes. Serve warm with a glass of wine outside with friends! Make sure to put Tuscany on your must go travel list!
What you need to make Tuscan Herb Bread
- Active Dry Yeast
- Fresh or Dried Herbs
- Bread Flour
- Stand Mixer ( or just use your hands)
- Warm window or draft free area to allow your dough to prove (rise)
What are Tuscan Herbs?
Tuscan Herb Bread
- 1½ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water (250 ml) 110-115F
- 2 tsp organic white sugar
- 2 tsp fine salt
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil extra for brushing on dough
- 2½ cups sifted bread flour (635 g)
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh basil chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh thyme chopped
- 1 Tbsp fresh oregano chopped
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In bowl of stand mixer, add yeast to 1 cup warm water with the sugar. Gently stir together with handheld whisk. Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy.
- Whisk together flour, salt, and herbs in a separate bowl.
- Add olive oil to yeast mixture and with dough attachment turn mixer onto medium low.
- Slowly spoon in flour and herbs. Turn speed up to medium.
- 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 dough into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft free location until doubled in size. (dough will be sticky)
- If your area is cooler, it may take 2 hrs to rise.
- Once dough has doubled, remove from bowl and place on parchment paper lined tray. Push down into a rounded loaf shape removing excess air. Take a sharp knife and cut a criss cross pattern on the top.
- Place a large mixing bowl upside down on the loaf or place in cold oven with light on. Let it rise for about 1hr.
- Now that dough has doubled again, gently brush with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and more rosemary.
- Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 25-30min, or until crust is golden brown.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.