Using herbs IN BAKING
The smell of fresh herbs in home-baked goods is one of life’s great pleasures. Plus adding freshly harvested herbs will make your breads and cookies taste great.
Nothing tastes more delicious than freshly baked bread flavoured with homegrown herbs. And a crowd favourite is rosemary focaccia.
Ingredients • 600g strong white flour • 2 cups warm water • 4 teaspoons dry active yeast • 4 tablespoons olive oil • ½ teaspoon salt • extra olive oil • fresh rosemary leaves • rock salt
Sprinkle yeast and a tablespoon of flour over the water, stir until dissolved and leave at room temperature to foam up.
Combine the flour, olive oil and salt in a large bowl. Pour in water and yeast, and mix to form an elastic dough. Add more flour or water if necessary. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for at least 5 minutes. The dough should spring back when poked. Form into a flat disc, transfer to an oiled bowl and leave in a warm place to rise.
When the dough has doubled in size (up to 1 hour), knock back with the heel of your hand on a floured surface to form a 2½cm thick disc. Return to its warm place to rise again for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 220ºc.
When the dough has doubled in size again, poke dimples over the surface, brush on olive oil and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and rock salt. Transfer to hot oven and bake until golden brown. Remove from oven. While still hot, brush over more olive oil. Serve warm.
Herb & cheese French bread can be made a day ahead. Serve at barbecues, or with winter soups.
Ingredients • 125g butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
• 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
• 2 French bread sticks Using an electric hand mixer, beat together the butter, cheese, herbs and mustard.
Cut bread sticks crossways at 1cm-2cm intervals, cutting nearly all the way through. Spread the bread slices with herb butter. Wrap bread sticks in tin foil and bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes or until bread is heated through.
You can also use herbs such as lavender, lemon verbena and rosemary in your sweet baking. Grace Terry from Havelock North says peppermintscented geranium leaves can be used to flavour cupcakes and cakes.
“Put fresh leaves in the bottom of the baking dish or cupcake case and pour over the mix. Chocolate would work great with this,” she explains. “Bake as usual and peel off the leaves before serving. For a milder taste, put the leaves under the cupcake cases; the flavour will impart through the case during baking.”