A rustic loaf of bread flavored with fresh herbs and baked in a dutch oven. Crisp on the outside, soft and tender on the inside.
This is one of the first bread recipes I learned to master way back in the early days of this site. Back then baking with yeast terrified me! But I found inspiration for this bread from both Joy the Baker and the Pioneer Woman and felt brave enough to give it a try. And it was such a success that I’ve baked it many, many times over the years. I’m also over my fear now, and bread is one of my favorite things to bake, especially during the fall and winter.
I love how simple this bread is— just bread flour, water, yeast, butter, salt and fresh herbs. It comes together easily and has the best flavor and texture. It’s baked in a heavy cast iron pot to trap the moisture and give the bread a crispy exterior. The outside has such a pleasing crunch, while the inside is soft and tender.
baking tip:What is bread flour?
Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, which helps with gluten development and makes it ideal for yeast bread baking. Breads baked with bread flour will rise higher and tend to have a chewier and more elastic texture.
However, while there may be a difference in the final baked bread depending on the recipe, you can substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour in most cases.
Shop Tools for this recipe
Dutch Oven Rustic Herb Loaf
- 1 cup warm water (250 ml)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 envelope)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (113 grams)
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh herbs , chopped (I used rosemary, thyme, and sage)
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt , plus more for sprinkling
- 3 - 4 cups bread flour (567 grams)
- Olive oil
- Combine warm water and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add fresh herbs. Let cool slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 2 cups of the bread flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and butter mixture and mix until dough comes together. Add remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough clears the bowl and is just slightly sticky to the touch.
- Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes with an electric mixer and dough hook. You may also knead by hand, it will just take longer.
- Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a cast iron dutch oven with parchment paper or grease with olive oil.
- Punch down the dough and knead a few times by hand. Reshape and place in the prepared dutch oven. Use a sharp knife to cut a fairly deep "x" into the dough. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and more herbs.
- Cover and let rise an additional 30 minutes.
- Bake for 30 minutes with the lid of the dutch oven on. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes until loaf is browned. Let cool completely before slicing.
- You can substitute all-purpose flour for the bread flour if you'd like, but I highly recommend using bread flour if possible. It yields a lighter texture.
This recipe was originally published November 2012.