Scarborough Fair Herb Bread
One day I was walking around my house humming Scarborough Fair, and for the life of me I couldn’t remember any of the lyrics except the part with the herbs “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme”. I looked them up and I was so confused. Why do we sing this song around Christmastime? I did a bunch of research and I still have no idea, but for some reason that melody and those herbs always feel Christmassy to me, so I’m going with it.
This bread, you guys. It’s so good. It took me a few tries to get the right balance of herbs for the filling and for the right texture and flavor for the bread, but I love it now. And the pretty swirl/twist is really a lot simpler than it looks.
Once your dough has risen and doubled in size, cut it in half and roll it out into a large rectangle. Roughly 12×14 inches. Spread on the herb paste evenly, roll up into a long log, then cut down the middle lengthwise. Lay the two pieces cut-side up, and twist them. Then you kind of scrunch it to fit into your prepared loaf pan and let it rise for a second time and bake.
Isn’t it so pretty? I can’t stop staring at it.
Just keep in mind that this is a sourdough loaf so it’ll take several hours from start to finish. But truly, other than the steps I showed you above, it’s very little hands-on time. You got this!
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter
- 2 1/4 cup cool water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons honey or pure maple syrup
- 6-7 cups whole wheat flour (preferably organic and freshly ground)
- 2 cups flat leaf parsley, stems removed
- 4 sprigs rosemary, stems removed
- 4 sprigs thyme, stems removed
- 2 large or 4 small leaves sage
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
- large pinch of salt to taste
- 2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the starter, water, salt, butter, and honey or maple, and stir to combine. Using a dough hook, add 5 cups of flour and mix until well incorporated. Continue to add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom. Continue to knead the dough in the machine for about 10 more minutes, or until it no longer breaks immediately when stretched. Pull it out of the bowl and knead it by hand on a clean work surface until uniform. Shape into a ball and place into a large bowl. Let rise for 6~12 hours, until about double in size.
- Meanwhile, make your herb paste. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the herbs, garlic, and salt. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the cheese. Set aside.
- Once doubled, prepare your loaf pans by greasing generously with butter and set aside. Cut your ball of dough in half. Roll one of the halves into a large rectangle (roughly 12x14 inches). Spread half of your Herb mixture evenly on the surface, leaving about an inch around the perimeter of the dough. Roll up the dough tightly, pinching the seam shut. Using a bench scraper or a sharp knife, cut the the log of dough lengthwise. Turn the two strips, cut side up and lay them side by side. Starting at one end, lift one piece across the other, and continue twisting the entire length to create a braided look. Scrunch the rope and fit it into your loaf pan. Repeat with the other half of the dough and herb mixture.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours. 30 minutes before rise is complete, preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake until a instant read thermometer inserted through the side into the middle registers 180°F, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.
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