Monday, April 18, 2011

French Bread Herb De Provence

 .French Fleur-de-lis on a cross adorning my Thyme

There are many rich cultures that are lost "Deep in the Heart of Texas" and the French are one of them. Their Fleur-de-lis, a symbol of royalty, once embellished the French flag that hung over Texas in 1685 near the Gulf Coast as they laid claim to our state.

The people of  France are also well known for their many herbs growing wild among their countries hillsides. The women would busy themselves collecting their fragrant aromas for adding to notoriously famous french cuisine that many of us try to capture today.

 I so love creating a tiny bit of folk lore in my own Texas herb garden that includes the French culture. It is said that the people in France would plant beds of Thyme to attract Faries and make them feel at home because the Faries were known to love Thyme. In return I shall know that the Faries watch over my herb garden.

 My version of the French Bread Herb De Provence

I so love baking bread! If you don't find me in the garden I will usually be baking bread. French Bread, Herb De Provence is on of my favorites. The Herb De Provence can be bought in markets and each company that makes it uses a little different herb blend.

Traditionally I believe the French used things like Thyme, which was the base for the blend and added things like Basil, Marjoram, Rosemary, Mint, Oregano, Sage, Fennel, Tarragon, Bay Leaves, Savory, Chervil and even Orange Zest. I'm sure there are a great deal more herbs that they included.

I've read that it was later, perhaps in the 1970's that Americans began to add Lavender to the blend. I found that a bit odd since France is so well known for their rolling hills of lush Lavender. However, Texas has become quite well know for their vast fields of Lavender as well.

The sky is really the limit to creating your own Herb De Provence blend. It would greatly depend upon your own personal preferences as well as the availability of assorted herbs.In my case, I use mostly fresh herbs. I do dry some herbs for winters use that die back with the first frost. But as springs promise for fresh herbs brightens each and everyday, it brings me great pleasure to clip a bit of this or that straight from the garden. I suppose you could say my recipe for Herb De Provence is seasonal.

I do however have a recipe that I love to use for making my french bread I would love to share. I've made it like the traditional french, making a poolish and it is very delightful. But I've found an easier version that simply comes out perfect every time.

As I gathered herbs for today's french bread I found lots of Thyme which is in flower right now. I always find the flowers of the herbs to be the most delectable portion of herbs. I also collected Oregano, Rosemary, Bee Balm (which has a mild citrus flavor) Pineapple Sage, Dill, Chives, Garlic and Leeks (which adds a subtle sweet onion flavor). I also love to add some fresh, finely grated and good quality Parmesan cheese to the blend as well as a bit of Sea Salt.

Leeks are gently protecting heirloom lettuce

 French Bread Herb De Provence

4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
7 cups unbleached bread flour (start with 6 and then add as needed)
1 tbsp. sea salt
As many garden herbs as you like
finely minced garlic and leeks
Parmesan Cheese (finely grated)
a little cornmeal for dusting pan and rolling the dough in
1 egg white (farm fresh) whipped with about a tsp. of water for brushing on the loaf
You may also sprinkle the top with seeds

I first warmed my mixing bowl and then added the warm water and the yeast to dissolve. Then in another bowl I whisked together all the dry ingredients. Then add the dry ingredients to the yeast mixture. Use your dough hook and mix everything for a couple of minutes. Turn off the mixer and check the dough. If it still feels a bit to sticky add a little more flour. I then take it out of the mixing bowl and hand knead for about 5 minutes or so, until I have a nice soft and pliable dough.
Place it in another bowl that you have oiled with a little olive oil. I kind of roll the ball around in the bowl and then place a towel over it. Place it in a fairly warm area to rise to almost double in size. It takes about 45 minutes.

Next punch it down in the bowl and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a nice rectangle shape and then roll it up to make a nice long loaf. Place them on a lightly oiled cooking sheet dusted with the cornmeal. I kind of carefully roll each loaf in the cornmeal. Tuck in the ends a bit and make sure the seam is on the bottom. Place a towel over the whole thing and let them rise again to double in size. Carefully slit the tops 4 to 6 times with a very sharp knife making diagonal very shallow cuts.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Take them out of the oven and brush with your egg white mixture and then place back in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes. Take out and cool your bread on wire racks.

I have a very special Herb friend, Rhonda, who has shared some of her Herb De Provence blends and recipes on her website at 

Growing Herbs for Beginners
 She also offers many online video classes. I had fun during Christmas doing some of the Christmas Craft Classes.

Learn to grow your own herbs with Growing Herbs for Beginners  Free online Video classes


Happy Gardening!!



  1. Mmmmmmm your bread sounds good!!!

  2. What a happy looking little one in amidst the plants:) Lovely post and recipe, Pammy! Yum! Nice share about the online video classes also:) Love your garden:) Will link your blog post to the blog party tomorrow! thank you so much for sharing xxx

  3. I love your blog! your pictures are superb!! With that delicious Herb de Provence Bread now I know why your dryer is messing your jeans!! I would be in Intensive Care if I baked like you do. Larry and I would kill ourselves eating all that deliciousness!!

  4. I'm so glad ya'll have enjoyed ;) I'm stuffed and tired Ha!! xxooxx

  5. Oo this bread sounds very yummy!
    Thank you for sharing.
    I also LOVE the picture at the top of your blog. - adorable!
    Lesley x

  6. This sounds wonderful. I can't wait to try it.