Have you bought some fresh or dried herbs from the store for a recipe you want to try, but you never seem to finish what you buy? They sit in the pantry, spoil if they’re fresh, or lose their potency over time if they’re dried.
Do you make homemade bread? Don’t waste the opportunity, and don’t let those expensive herbs go to waste. If you like to bake bread, there’s lots of ways to use up what you have, and your baked goods can only benefit from the addition of smells and flavors that herbs bring.
Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing in the beginning. Herbs require some research and experimentation if you’re not used to using them. If you’re worried about making a mistake, then look up some recipes and notice any herbal combinations that are made to find out what is complementary with what. Otherwise, just add whatever you’ve got on hand. If it doesn’t work, you’ll soon find out. Add one herb at a time to your favorite bread recipes and notice how it works for you, then add others when you’re feeling braver. You can even add them to your favorite bread, cake or cookie mixes you buy at the store.
Adding herbs to any bread recipe is a snap. Calculate for about one teaspoon of herbs per cup of flour. Add additional flour a handful at a time if the dough is too wet, but chances are you won’t see much difference. For coarse herbs such as rosemary, grinding them will provide the flavor without the grit. A small hand-held coffee grinder is good for grinding dried herbs. If you’re working with fresh herbs, cutting them with a kitchen knife as finely as possible is a good option. Even a mortar and pestle will work, if you can find one. Look in a specialty kitchen supply store or online.
Add herbs to rolls in the same manner as regular loaf bread. In addition to baking them inside the bread, you can baste the final product after it’s been baked partway, and then add more herbs over the top. Use egg white for a sheen when basting, or butter or margarine for some additional flavor.
Pizza dough or Breadsticks
Pizza dough benefits greatly from the addition of herbs. Some good ones are parsley, rosemary, garlic, thyme, sage, basil or oregano. They add visual interest as well as a wonderful aroma to the baked final product. Breadsticks can be done in layers if there are a lot of spices you’re trying to go through. You can add herbs to the interior, and sprinkle layers over the top before baking.
Muffins, Pancakes, Doughnuts, Cookies or Other Sweet Bread Products
Again, add approximately a teaspoon per cup of flour. For sweet bread products, you’ll need to consider herbs that complement sweet flavors, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or ginger.
Don’t let those spices in the fridge or cabinet expire without being used. Breads are a great way to use up leftover herbs, with great results.