Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Let them eat...Graeter's Herb Bread!

As a teenager, I couldn't think of anything that tried my patience more than the concept of breadmaking. Sure, I really wanted to make it, but held back from actually doing it. Measure, proof, stir, knead...and wait wait wait for the rise, the punchdown, and the rise yet again! The waiting seemed endless to me then, having the impatience of the young, yearning for instant gratification. But now, as the decades fly by, I find myself patiently nurturing the webby growth of the yeast strands in the flour mixture and inhaling with pleasure the homey aroma of my soon-to-be freshly baked bread.

I really hate running out of bread during the week and during my foray to market last weekend, I completely forgot to buy some. This provided me with just the boost I needed to finally try making this recipe for Graeter's Herb Bread. Graeter's, most widely known for its luscious French pot, small batch ice creams (even Oprah is addicted to them!), also is a locally owned bakery chain. Every year, coinciding with Kentucky Derby Saturday, Graeter's bakes this fragrant and savory herb-nut bread as part of the Civic Garden Center's Plant, Herb, and Hosta Sale fundraiser. As far as I know you can't buy it any other time of the year and so I always used to stock my freezer by buying several loaves for future use. It is delish fresh or toasted and I have a special fondness for sandwiches made with freshly poached chicken, lettuce/arugula, and tomato, slathered with homemade mayo and either pesto or Dijon mustard.

This recipe was published many years ago in the Civic Garden Center's Members' Bulletin. A special note stated: "This is the recipe for the herb bread that you all wait for at our special events. Enjoy!! This recipe has not been published for at least six years." And here it is again. I hope you like it as much as I do--and bless you, Miriam, wherever you are!

Miriam's Herb Bread
yield: 1 loaf

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
2 T sugar
1 T dry yeast

2 T unsalted butter, softened (optional)
1 t salt
1 T dried parsley
1/2 t dried tarragon
1/2 t dried dillweed
1 t dried minced onion

1/3 c chopped walnuts

2 1/2 c bread flour

Combine warm milk and warm water with sugar in large bowl and add yeast, stirring well to dissolve. Let proof. Add butter, salt, herbs and onion. Add half of flour and mix well. Add nuts; mix. Add just enough flour to make dough easy to handle; turn out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.

Grease a clean large bowl and place dough in it, turning dough over to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size (about 1 hour). Punch dough down. Roll into 18"x9" rectangle, then roll up, beginning with short side of dough. With heel of hand, press ends to seal. Fold ends under loaf. Place seam side down in greased 9"x5"x3" loaf pan. Cover and let rise till doubled in bulk (time will vary). Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place loaf in lower middle rach of oven. Bake 25-30 minutes or till top sounds hollow when tapped. Turn out of pan and brush top with butter or milk. Cool on wire rack.

So far, so good


Update: Alas, I seem to have allowed the second rise to go too long. Although the bread tastes and smells great, it fell during the baking and ended up about 2" high! Like a good scientist, this just requires some more experimentation. I can't give up now! ;-)

Tastes pretty good anyway!


Blogger Lauri said...

Thank you for the recipe!

5:18 PM  
Blogger Willa Frank said...

You're very welcome, Laurie. It's baking right now as I write and smells great!

I'll be posting a photo of it later tonight, but it looked wonderful in the pan before I put it in the oven.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blog is just beautiful! Of course, being located near, and in occasional contact with, the Civic Garden Center, I've had this bread and it is a fine addition to the breadbox.

Sorry it's taken me so long to post something, and now I'll backtrack to the St. Anthony's Festival post where you kindly mentioned my dear departed Pop.

Anyway, vis-a-vis the Garden Center, there is a benefit on Friday, June 23rd (6-8PM, I believe), with admission of $25.00 with food and wine provided by their coalition of Neighborhood Gardeners. Our city's version of growing/eating locally, I guess. Just saw "The Future of Food" a documentary about genetic modification, put together by Jerry (Cherry) Garcia's widow, and it codified what I already knew but what others may still need to learn.

Thanks, Willa


10:54 AM  

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