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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Braided Garlic-Herb Bread

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I spent a lot of years babysitting. From the age of ten, I started watching not just my younger sisters and brother, but also several of my parents' friends children as well as some babies and kids in our neighborhood. I babysat all through middle school, high school, and even college. I like it so much that I still babysit--for free!--for a few of my friends' kids.

One of my favorite babysitting memories is doing the hair of two little girls, Arden and Marin. Each time I came, we'd spend time in front of the television, then catching up on their favorite Disney Channel show while I twisted, curled, and braided their hair in all sorts of creative ways. A hairdresser I am not, but I loved that they let me pretend for a few hours!
I don't do a lot of braiding hair these days. Instead, I've moved on to braiding bread! A few years ago I gave it a try with the whole grain challah and this time it was a garlic herb bread. Braiding dough has proven to be easier than hair--no squirmy kids or flyaway strands....and just like braided hair, braided dough looks pretty darn cute!

Aside from being incredibly easy, this bread was good. It managed to be dense while still tender and the dried herbs were tasted in every bite. This makes a big loaf--I served it to a dinner party of nine and we had a few pieces leftover (that still tasted great two days later!).

Braiding expert or not, this is one homemade bread you'll want to try!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
Two Years Ago: Golden Grahams S'mores Bars

Braided Garlic-Herb Bread
from Christy's Kitchen Creations

-4-4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I probably only needed 3 1/2 to 4)
-3 tbsp sugar
-2 pkg quick-rise yeast
-2 tsp dried basil
-1 3/4 tsp dill weed
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-3/4 tsp garlic powder
-3/4 tsp dried rosemary
-3/4 cup 2% milk
-1/2 cup water
-1/4 cup butter, cubed
-1 egg

1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and seasonings. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and cubed butter to 120-130F. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients and beat until just moistened. Add egg, beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a soft dough.
2. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (4-6 minutes) [I used my Kitchenaid dough hook for this]. Cover dough and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
3. Divide dough into three equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a 15-inch rope. Place ropes on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet and braid, pinching each end to seal. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 25 minutes.
4. Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.