Rhea Orr, who calls St. Anthony, Idaho home, sent in an herb-seasoned yeast bread recipe, which quickly became the foundation for harvest-shaped dough art in our kitchen crafters' hands! The bountiful bundle of wheat can top your table for an autumn celebration...and then be passed around as part of the meal.
- 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 3 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram or1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 small onion, diced
- 5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- Melted butter, optional
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sugar, oil, salt, seasonings and whole wheat flour; beat until smooth. Add onion and enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch dough down. Divide into fourths; cut each portion into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 9-in. rope. Place two ropes end to end on a greased baking sheet (dough will temporarily extend over sides of pan). Place 10 ropes side by side vertically over the 9-in. ropes. Bring ends of the two horizontal ropes together over the "bundle" of ropes and tie in the center. Curve top half of ropes outward from the center. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush with milk; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Uncover. With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut diagonal slits in rope tops to look like wheat. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter if desired. Yield: 4 loaves.
Originally published as Harvest Herb Bread in Country Woman September/October 1997, p22
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