This is very much an afternoon/dinner/evening bread with its strong notes of garlic and chili. Works wonderfully with stews and fish.

Since it is winter time and the cold north is, well, cold, the fresh herbs we can come by are not particularly fresh, so we turn to the dried variety. For this loaf I've used dried thyme, basil, and rosemary, and a sprinkling of chili flakes.

Dried herbs ready for crushing

To get them worked into the dough and distributed more nicely, I crush the herbs in my trusty mortar until they're just small flakes.

Crushed dried herbs

On the side, melt a pan of margarine (or butter if you're not allergic to milk) over low heat. Once it's melted, remove from the heat and stir in the herbs and crush a small handful cloves of garlic into it as well. Give a good stir.

Butter, herb and garlic mixture

Mix with water, flour, salt and fresh yeast and give it a good ten minute kneading in your stand mixer. Once it's mixed, lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it to rise until about doubled in size.

Ready to rise

Pour it onto a lightly floured surface and shape it with a bit of force.

Ready to shape

Then it goes into your dutch oven, whatever form or shape it might have. Mine's big and made of glass.

Dutch oven

As depicted it's important to slice a deep cross at the top of the bread (or another slicing shape that opens up the bread in both directions) as it will have a very good deal of oven spring (or bloom). It bakes for about 30 minutes with the lid on at 230°C and another 20 to 30 minutes at 200°C without the lid on. Remove from the dutch oven and let cool.

Baked bread with blooming

Now all we need is some fried fish, steamed vegetables, and a nice generous dollop of sauce hollandaise. Mmmmm.

Recipe

110 g margarine
Dried herbs to taste (e.g., 1 tbsp each of thyme, rosemary, basil, and chili flakes. 3-6 cloves of garlic)
480 g flour (preferably bread, but all-purpose will do)
240 g water
8 g salt
7 g fresh yeast

Olive oil to drizzle (not part of the dough itself)

  • Melt butter at low heat. Remove from heat and mash in the garlic and stir in the herbs.
  • Allow to cool slightly then mix all the ingredients in a stand mixer and knead for 10 minutes at low to medium speed.
  • Ferment in a bowl for about 2 hours. After about an hour to an hour and a half, heat the oven to 230°C.
  • Slightly knead and shape the dough and place it in the dutch oven. Cut a cross in the dough, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on top of it.
  • Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on at the 230°C, then reduce the temperature to 200°C, remove the lid and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Allow to cool before slicing.