Herb bread can be a real treat for your family, and it can be a show-stopper the next time you are asked to bring the rolls for a party. You can cut herb bread into cubes and place with a bit of meat and cheese and an olive for a flavorful addition to an already elegant party appetizer. Leftover herb bread can be put to good use in stuffing recipes and to make savory bread puddings. If you don't have time to bake your own herb bread from scratch, you can add a mix of herbs to a dish of olive oil for dipping, or sprinkle your favorite mix onto "garlic bread" after you've buttered it, but before you pop it into the oven.

Don't forget that you can add herbs to bread in all its forms. Consider making herbed varieties of any of the following: Biscuits --Crackers - Bread Sticks - Quick Breads - Sourdough Breads -Wheat Breads - Rye Breads - Pull Apart Breads - Dinner Rolls - Croissants - Pretzel Rolls- Hand Pies - Popovers - Pastry Puffs.

You can adapt almost any basic bread recipe into a custom herb bread just by tossing in a few tablespoons of your favorite herbs. Choose either one herb, or a blend of complementary herbs. The flavors will become even more pleasing and complex if you add cheese (mild, creamy cheeses for herbs such as chives and dill, stronger cheeses for more assertive herbs such as rosemary and basil) and other additions. Look at the following lists for suggestions on customizing your bread recipes, or scroll to the end for three specific breads to try. Have fun experimenting, and remember to place the dough in a warm place to rise -- I find that the cabinet above the stove works well when you are cooking something else, or the garage is a good choice on a warm day.

Herbs to Grow For Bread:

Rosemary - A little chopped rosemary can change the character of a bread loaf. This herb is so strong that a sprig of rosemary placed on a baking sheet in the oven with the bread can flavor the loaf.
Basil - The leaves (fresh or dried) mix well with other herbs, with garlic and with cheese, making this one of the most versatile herbs to use in bread-making.
Chives - Chives give an oniony flavor to breads, and go well in mixtures involving cream cheese and garlic.
Sage - Sage for bread works best if the leaves are finely minced or dried and ground as they have a strong flavor, but one that can beautifully accent whole wheat bread.
Parsley --
Thyme - Thyme is great when you want to add a citrus element to savory breads.
Fennel - Fennel seeds are used to accent rye, pumpernickel, wheat and other rich breads. The leaves and the grated root can also be used.
Dill - Dill seeds and dill weed both make a flavorful addition to breads.
Caraway - The seeds are popular for rye and pumpernickel breads.
Lavender - Lavender flowers can add a gentle floral perfume to bread dough.

Regional Herb Blends that Go Great in Breads:

Tuscan Herbs - Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Oregano - Pair with garlic and parmesan
Provincial Herbs - Tarragon, savory, fennel, basil, thyme, rosemary (and sometimes lavender)
Greek Herbs - Greek Oregano, marjoram, dill, mint - Pair with lemon and peppers
Fines Herbs - Chervil, parsley chives and tarragon - Pair with gruyere and cracked pepper

Additions:

Vegetables/Fruit: Sun dried tomatoes, dried onion flakes (or minced onion),lemon zest, olives, pepper flakes (or minced hot peppers), roasted garlic
Seeds and Grains: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts (or other nuts of choice), oats, flax, wheat germs, chia seeds. poppy seeds
Meat: Crumbled Bacon, diced pepperoni

Parmesan Herb Bread

1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp.; ¼ oz.)
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. 105-115 degree water
2 ¼ c. unbleached flour
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (divided)
2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
3 tbsp. grated parmesan
6 cloves roasted garlic, mashed (hard parts removed)

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Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a medium bowl and set aside to proof. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, salt, 2 tbsp. of the rosemary, the basil, thyme and the oregano. Make a well in these ingredients and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix until a sticky dough forms, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead briefly, adding flour as necessary. Wipe out and oil the bowl. Return the dough to the bowl, covering it loosely with plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in a warm spot until it has doubled in bulk. Punch it down, shape it into a 12" long loaf, and allow to rise again on the baking sheet. Combine the Parmesan, garlic and remaining rosemary. Sprinkle over the top of the loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Cheesy Dill Wheat Bread

1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp.; ¼ oz.)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
¼ c. 105-115 degree water
6 c. whole wheat flour
½ c. dry milk solids
1 tbsp. salt
6 tbsp. fresh dill weed (2 tbsp. dried)
2 c. warm milk
3 tbsp. melted butter
6 tbsp. dark molasses
2 c. mozzarella, shredded

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Sprinkle the yeast and brown sugar over the water and set the mixture aside to proof. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the milk solids, salt and minced dill. In a separate large bowl, combine the milk, melted butter and molasses. Add yeast mixture, and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture, beating until well incorporated. Turn the dough out into a floured board. Knead briefly, adding flour if necessary. Allow the dough to rise once in the bowl and once on the baking sheet. Bake in a 350 oven for about 45 minutes.

Buttery Rosemary Olive Rolls

1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp.; ¼ oz.)
3/4 cup warm water (120° to 130°)
2 tbsp. sugar
2 ½ c. unbleached flour, plus extra as needed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons butter, melted, divided
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ c. minced olives
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
2 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt

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Grease a 9" round cake pan.

Sprinkle the yeast and brown sugar over the water and set the mixture aside to proof. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the butter, water and 2 tablespoons butter; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until smooth. Stir in cheese, olives, black pepper and rosemary and combine to create a soft dough, adding additional flour if needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until it becomes smooth and elastic (around 5 minutes). Wipe out and oil the bowl and return the dough to it. Cover. Let rest for 10 minutes, then divide into 13 balls. Arrange the balls in the prepared pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and a tea towel, then let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are browned. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 tbsp. melted butter, the honey and the garlic powder. Use a pastry brush to coat the hot rolls with the butter mixture. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.