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Feta and Herb Bread

I wanted to start this by saying that I’ve never been a bread-and-butter kind of person. But then I googled this phrase and discovered it has a lot of meanings. So to clarify, I am not opposed to the basic important things in life nor am I anti-thank you notes (for the record, I’m actually very pro-thank you notes.) I just really don’t like eating bread and butter.

Does that make me weird? No matter.

I do adore bread though. Preferably homemade bread that comes in a big, thick loaf and is dreamily dense. When I began freelance writing from home, my first thought (literally) was, “I should start baking bread while I write!”

And so in the last few months I’ve tried my hand at bread baking. It’s strangely therapeutic and, more importantly, it’s like an air freshener sent from Heaven. If I am ever in a near death experience where I can “see the light,” I will most certainly go towards the light if a fresh baked bread scent is coming from that direction.

This is the first bread I ever made. After scouring the Internet, I found a few feta bread recipes, most of which had dill in them. I loved the feta idea, but wanted an earthier herb taste – dill is so bright and fresh tasting. The recipe I’ve developed has feta, garlic, thyme, and oregano and it’s oh, so delicious. Very finely diced garlic gives the occasional punch of flavor, while the thyme and oregano are subtly present throughout.  The feta blends in perfectly, and keeps the bread moist as it bakes.

Mmmm
– it is SO good. Prepare to cave to all your bread desires. I’ve had a slice and a half while typing.

Feta Herb Bread
Yields 1 round loaf

If you don’t have a stand mixer, don’t worry! You’ll just have to knead with your hands and it will take a bit longer. Dough should look smooth when it is kneaded enough; if you take rub you thumb across the dough’s surface, it will not break.

1 cup tepid water
1 package active dry yeast
1 tbs sugar
3 cups flour
½ tsp salt
6 oz. package feta
1 clove garlic, very finely diced
1 ½ tsp oregano
1 ½ tsp ground thyme
3 tsp olive oil, plus 1 tbs

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand for about 10 minutes, so the yeast forms a foamy top over the water. Add flour and salt and beat on low until dough comes together, about 1 minute.

Add the other ingredients and beat until evenly combined.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to knead with your hands, about five minutes. Form into a ball. Add about a tablespoon of oil to the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Turn to cover with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Lightly flour a baking sheet or dust with cornmeal. Turn the dough out onto the baking sheet and punch it down. Briefly knead, and then reform the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 350°.

Slash the top of the bread to allow steam to escape during baking. Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes or until bread is just browning.

Picnic tip:  Herbed bread is a treat for a picnic or hike. It can be eaten plain or with some cheese.

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