Years ago, I loved making bread in the bread machine my mother bought us for our wedding anniversary. She knew how much I wanted one, and she definitely delivered. I baked all of our bread in it for a while, and then the novelty wore off a little, and I had a baby. Our bread came from the grocery store for several years after that except for special occasions when I felt inspired.
I went for it a second time when the kids were a little older, and then I made a loaf in the oven once a few years ago. We were studying the Biblical feasts, so I made challah bread. It changed bread making for me forever. After a decade of bread machine bread, I had found a better way! Sometimes, you just can't improve on a good thing. I've been making bread in the oven ever since.
I don't personally eat a large amount of bread, but I do indulge occasionally. Last night was one of those nights. I finally mastered how to take this recipe that was once a bread machine recipe made with white flour, and I turned it into something better in the oven with a healthier flour. I am avoiding wheat right now, and I knew I would want a slice of this bread with dinner, so I made it with spelt flour, which is a flour that our family is used to eating already. I also switched out the dry herbs for freshly harvested herbs from my patio garden. Wow, did I make a good loaf! The kids snacked on the leftovers today, and there isn't a crumb left!
Here's the recipe complete with both wheat and spelt directions. I apologize that I neglected to take a photo!
Parmesan Herb Bread
1 1/4 C warm water (110 degrees approximately)
3 C flour (spelt, whole wheat, or bread flour work great)
2 T dry milk powder
2 T sugar (I used sucanat, but white sugar works)
1 1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil
1/3 C grated or shredded parmesan cheese
1 T active dry yeast
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 t dried thyme or 1 T fresh
1 t dried oregano or 1 T fresh
1 t dried basil or 1 T fresh
1 t dried rosemary or 1 T fresh
Place ingredients in bowl in the order listed in the recipe. Using dough hook, mix all ingredients until a stiff ball of dough forms. For wheat flour, machine knead the dough for 3-4 minutes (2 minutes for spelt flour). * Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Knead a second time for 3-4 minutes (1 1/2 minutes for spelt). Grease a bowl using olive oil. Form your dough into a ball and place in greased bowl. Turn it over so all sides are coated evenly. Cover with a towel and allow it to rise for 90 minutes in a warm location. After 90 minutes, form the dough into a loaf shape and place into a greased 4x8 loaf pan. Cover again with a towel and allow to rise for an additional hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
* If you do not have a KitchenAid or similar mixer with a dough hook that can handle bread making, you can still make this bread. Double the kneading time and knead the dough by hand.