This Shaker fresh herb bread is the first of two things of made from the Harvest Baker so far, and significantly less work for a better tasting end bread product than the other item (the cheddar and veggie-o-saurus).
In this Shaker fresh herb bread, the use of a ton of mixed fresh herbs along with the rather uncommon pantry ingredient, celery seed, imbue the bread with incredible bright flavors. Celery seed isn’t something I typically keep around as a must-have spice, because only I don’t have much experience using it for cooking or baking projects. The Harvest Baker’s use of it in this Shaker fresh herb bread has opened up my eyes to celery seed’s subtle vegetal flavor. A little celery seed goes a long way towards adding a flavor akin to the taste of a lightly sauteed mirepoix. If you don’t have celery seed, it’s okay to omit it, but it’s not terribly expensive and I definitely encourage seeking it out for this bread if possible.
This bread is one of the many recipes ME let me test out on her and her family when I visited way back in September. The Harvest Baker’s Shaker fresh herb bread starts with a low-maintenance enriched base dough and whether you make the dough by hand, with a stand mixer, or with a bread machine, it comes together quite easily. In all of the bread recipes I’ve read by the Harvest Baker, the key technique differentiating these breads is the use of a short autolysis step to help gluten formation. You stir together almost all of the “standard” bread dough ingredients, let them rest for 10-15 minutes, then add the rest of the flour, then gently knead in any delicate mix-ins: the walnuts, fresh herbs, and celery seed.
Although the original recipe calls for baking the bread as two small loaves, I opted to bake the dough into large dinner rolls, because A) we were going to be eating the bread with dinner, B) we wouldn’t need to wait as long for the second rise/oven bake, and C) I didn’t need to worry about injuring my fresh bread loaf by cutting into it while it was still warm (which is a big no-no… but utterly warm bread is irresistible to me).
Original source: The Harvest Baker
Shaker Fresh Herb Bread with Walnuts
- 1 cup walnuts
- 2 1/4 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup lukewarm water (105-110°F/41-43°C)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet or 1/4 ounce) active dry yeast instant is also fine
- 1 large egg yolk lightly whisked
- 6 1/4 to 6 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, tarragon, thyme, parsley, dill, sage) chopped
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
Glaze and Topping
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Toast the walnuts in a medium skillet or in a 300°F oven until fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Chop into relatively fine pieces and let cool.
Heat the milk in a small pot or in a medium bowl in the microwave until steamy, but before it comes to a boil. Pour the milk into a large bowl, pour in the sugar and salt, then stir to dissolve. Add in the olive oil, stir, and set the bowl aside until the milk cools to lukewarm.
In a small bowl, pour in the lukewarm water and sprinkle the water with the yeast. Stir with a fork a couple times to get all of the yeast wet and let stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is dissolve and a few bubbles appear so you can tell it is active.
Add the dissolved yeast and the egg yolk to the lukewarm milk mixture. Pour in 4 cups of the flour. Beat the dough vigorously with a wooden spoon or dough hook for 100 strokes, or about 3-5 minutes. Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside for 10-15 minutes to allow autolysis to occur (the flour absorbs the liquid and strands of gluten begin to form).
- Stir the walnuts, herbs, and celery seeds into the dough. Begin adding the remaining flour, about 1/3 cup at a time, until you've added just enough that the supple dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is still sticky, but kneadable. You may not need all the flour.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured work surface and flour your hands. Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes (or do this in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a bread machine on the dough setting). The dough should become supple and elastic. Coat the interior of a large bowl or Cambro container with some olive oil (about 1-2 teaspoons), add the dough, and turn to coat it entirely in the oil. Cover the container with the damp clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap you used earlier and set the container aside to rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down gently and turn it out onto your floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and knead each half for about one minute, then shape each half into a ball. If you'd like to make rolls, at this point divide each half into 6 evenly-sized pieces of dough (so you have 12 rolls total). Cover loosely with your kitchen cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough balls rest on the work surface, which should still be covered in a light dusting of flour to prevent sticking, for 5-10 minutes before shaping further.
Butter two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 (or 9 by 5) in loaf pans if making two loaves, or butter two rimmed half sheet pans if making rolls. Shape the two large dough balls into loaves and place them into the loaf pans with the ends tucked under. If making smaller rolls, shape the pieces into balls by placing a piece on a lightly-floured worksurface, cupping the dough with both hands, and gently rotate/drag it counterclockwise to form a tight ball. Place the rolls at evenly spaced intervals on the sheet pans. Cover the dough with your kitchen towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm draft-free location to double in size, about 30-60 minutes. About halfway through this period of time, begin preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C), with the racks set just above and just below the middle of the oven.
- Beat the egg and milk together for the glaze. Brush the loaves/rolls with the glaze using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the glazed dough generously with the sesame seeds. Bake loaves for about 40-50 minutes, or rolls for about 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through. They should turn a gorgeous shade of rich golden brown on top and they'll start to smell fantastic about 5-15 minutes before they are ready. To check for doneness, you can tap the bottom of a loaf/roll; it should sound hollow.
Remove the pans from the oven and turn the loaves/buns out on a cooling rack to cool completely. If you simply can't wait to tear into a loaf or roll because it smells so good, know that you'll need to finish that loaf/roll within the next hour or so, as a loaf opened before cooling will dry out and not keep well.