This restaurant style bread is simple to make and produces 4 loaves in little time. My husband Allen loved it when we had cold weather parties (back then we were actually inside the house instead of the garage with the door open!) with soup and this bread on the menu. I loved it because I could make the bread and let Allen rip off sections of one loaf when the bread was freshly baked. I always designated the other three loaves as “hands off”, so I still had 3 loaves left for the party.
Allen usually found multiple reasons to saunter into the kitchen all afternoon as he nibbled on the bread. In all fairness, he also was a great prep chef and dishwasher whenever we prepped for parties—so he deserved all the treats he got. None of us could figure out how he managed to stay slim considering how often and how much he “helped” me in the kitchen!
A CLASSIC BREAD, REWORKED
This is a variation of a traditional French epi bread, or wheat stalk bread. This version is softer because the cuts in the baguette shaped loaf are not angled as deeply as the traditional bread. This results in less exposed surface area, and softer inner pieces. Brushing herb-infused oil over top just prior to baking keeps the crust softer than traditional wheat stalk bread.
Each piece of bread is still easily broken off by hand into individual rolls, so no bread knife is required. Roll each loaf in the poppy seed mixture before cutting the leaves. This gives more interest and flavor. The final brush of herbs and oil builds up the flavor profile even more.
MAYO CLINIC RESOURCE
I originally found this recipe on the Mayo Clinic website when I was searching for recipes that were okay for Allen’s hypertension. I found the DASH diet from the Mayo Clinic. The acronym stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). It is an eating plan to lower or control high blood pressure. The DASH diet emphasizes foods that are lower in sodium as well as foods that are rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium — nutrients that help lower blood pressure.
If interested, check out their website: Mayo Clinic Dash Recipes .
USE A MIXER, OR MIX BY HAND
Here’s what you do:
Stir the yeast, sugar and water together. Let it sit for a few minutes to start activation, so you know it is alive and well. Then add the flour and other ingredients to make a soft, but not sticky dough. It is easy enough to mix the dough, especially when using a stand mixer. But you can mix it all by hand if necessary. I usually start with the mixer and end up kneading by hand because I find kneading soothing and therapeutic.
Cover and let the dough rise. The dough should look soft and bubbly. After the first rise, separate the dough into fourths, and roll each section into a long log.
I MADE A FEW CHANGES
It was interesting to me that the original DASH recipe combined 2 tablespoons each of Kosher salt and poppy seeds to roll the logs in. It just seemed like too much salt, especially for a diet to help with hypertension. Over the years, I have reduced the Kosher salt by half without affecting the quality of the bread. After rolling the logs in the poppy seed mixture, they are partially cut through at an angle, alternating sides. It is best to use kitchen shears rather than a knife.
After the second rise, an additional flavoring of olive oil and herbs is brushed over top. Again, I made a slight change and reduced the amount of olive oil from 1/2 to 1/3 cup because I always seemed to have too much, and it dripped onto the sheet pan. You can see that there is still enough oil to coat the loaves.
Bake the loaves for 25 minutes or so, until golden brown. Contrary to some other bread recipes that need to cool down before slicing, this bread can be torn into (literally) right away. Just break off sections and enjoy!
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (one package) active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 1/2-5 1/2 cups high gluten bread flour (or replace 1 and 1/4 cups bread flour with white whole wheat flour, if desired)
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
Put the yeast and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer and pour warm water (110 degrees) over top; stir to combine. When yeast has dissolved and starts to form bubbles, add the salt and oil; mix well.
Slowly mix in the bread flour. As the ingredients combine, the dough should become soft. If it is sticky, add a little more flour. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a hand mixer to start, and as the dough gets thick, finish by hand. Knead dough in mixer at medium speed (or by hand) for 5 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. Remove dough form machine, knead by hand 2-3 minutes. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl; cover with clear plastic wrap or a clean towel. Set bowl in a warm place; allow dough to rise until doubled in size; about 40-50 minutes.
Mix the Kosher salt and poppy seed; set aside. When the dough has risen, separate it into four equal pieces. Sprinkle work surface with the salt-seed mixture. Form each dough piece into a long loaf; roll through the salt-seed mixture to lightly coat each piece. Place loaves on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. With kitchen scissors, cut loaves into sections, alternating sides, leaving sections still attached.
Let rise for 30 minutes before baking. Prepare flavoring by mixing ingredients together, brush over loaves.
Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Can be served immediately because you don’t have to slice the bread, just pull apart at each section.