A succulent herb butter is the secret to this bread's irresistible richness. These lovely loaves disappear quickly.
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
- 1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- HERB BUTTER:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Melted butter
- Sesame or poppy seeds
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, eggs, shortening, sugar, salt and 1 cup flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.
- Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion to 1/16-in. thickness; cut out ten 5-in. circles from each. Combine the butter, garlic, basil, onion, caraway seeds, oregano and cayenne; spread over dough. Fold circles in half; set half aside.
- For each loaf, start with one folded circle on a greased baking sheet with folded edge toward the right. Working from right to left, add another piece with folded edge on right side, overlapping three-fourths of the previous piece. Repeat.
- Form a second rectangular loaf from the reserved folded circles. Brush with butter; sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).
Originally published as Buttery Herb Loaves in Best of Country Breads 2000, p72
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