Onion-Herb Bread

This herb-filled bread is based on yet another recipe from Criag Claiborne’s NY Times Cookbook (c 1961). It is called Spiral Bread, and uses scalded milk, a throwback method that some think originated in the days before pasteurization as a way to sterilize milk before baking. In fact, there ‘s more to it than that – scalding works to enhance rising by inactivating enzymes in the milk that inhibit yeast activity.

Claiborne uses a double-flour addition mixing method that may enhance aeration by adding only half the flour and mixing very well with a mixer before adding the rest of the flour and kneading.

I did get a very nice rise on this bread. While the herb filling was delicious, the bread itself seemed bland – I think I’m becoming a whole wheat addict. Everyone else, however, loved this bread.

I modified Claiborne’s herb filling to accomodate what I had growing in my backyard herb garden and what I had in the fridge – therefore, scallions became onions, thyme and rosemary were added and the overall quantity of herbs allowed me to make just one filled loaf and one regular.

Onion-Herb Bread

This recipe wil make one herb-filled loaf and one regular loaf. To make two herb-filled loaves, just double the filling ingredients.

1 cup scalded milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup lukewarm water
2 (1 1/4 oz) packages yeast
7 cups sifted flour
Olive oil
Onion-Herb filling (recipe below)

Scald 1 cup of milk in a small saucepan. Add sugar, salt and butter. Stir and cool to lukewarm.

Pour 1 cup lukewarm water in a large bowl of standing electric mixer. Add yeast and stir until dissolved. Add milk mixture. Add 4 cups flour, stir in and then beat well. Add remaining flour, remove from mixing stand and mix in by hand till dampened. Let stand 10 minutes.

Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, grease surface, cover and let rise in a warm place (80-85 degrees Fahrenheit) until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Punch dough down, turn out onto a smooth surface, and let rest 10 minutes.

Grease two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.

Split dough in half, and roll one half out into a rectangle about 9 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. (Make sure it will fit into your loaf pan). Brush with lightly beaten egg and spread filling over it, leaving a one-inch border on all edges. Roll up like a jelly roll and pinch the edges to seal. Place seam side down into greased loaf pan.

Flatten the other half of the dough and fold over twice to make a loaf. Place seam side down in loaf pan. Brush tops of both loaves with oil and let rise, covered, for another hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Bake bread one hour, turn out and cool on rack.

Onion-Herb Filling

1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves finely minced garlic
3 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
3 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
3 tbsp finely chopped basil
2 tbsp butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Cook onions in butter over moderately high heat in a skillet until translucent. Add garlic and herbs and continue cooking, stirring, until herbs are thoroughly wilted but not brown. Add seasonings. Cool.

Reserve 1 tbsp of the beaten egg. Add the balance to vegetables. Use in bread, above.

2 Responses to Onion-Herb Bread

  1. This is similar to the classic Jewish bread with onion-poppy seed filling that I loved growing up and still love when I take the time to make. The recipe can be found in the Bread Bible! Never though of adding herbs, too…perhaps next time!

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