Yummy Homemade Herbed French Bread

I say goodbye to you, 
old year.
Goodbye to promises made in good faith 
but not all met.
Goodbye to the obstacles and failures 
and all the regret.
Goodbye to dreams dreamt 
and plans planned 
that never saw the light of day.
Goodbye to loved ones lost 
and all those friends who slipped away.
Goodbye to hardship, 
pain and sorrow.
Goodbye to always 
waiting for tomorrow.
Goodbye to hard lessons learned
and all their doubt and fear. 
Goodbye to you,
old year.

I say hello to you new year. 
Hello to friends not yet made.
and hugs to those who stayed.
Hello to a new sea of opportunities
filled with creative possibilities.
Hello to newfound hope and love
and a renewed faith in God above.
Hello to you, new year.
May you bring joy and cheer,
good health and prosperity,
and much needed clarity.
New year, I say hello to you
and happily bid old year adieu.

-anita l. arambula

Wishing all of you a very happy, healthy, joy-filled new year. Thank you, my dear friends, for your support, love, comments, retweets, likes, and shares in 2013. May 2014 bring stronger connections, lasting friendships and an even bigger sense of community. 

May you always have family and friends to break bread with … and on that note, here's a yummy bread recipe to start the new year with. Enjoy!

Homemade Herbed French Bread

Makes 2 loaves

5 ½ - 6 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons (or 2 packets) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups hot tap water
⅓  cup olive oil
2 teaspoons dried whole oregano
2 teaspoons dried whole thyme leaves
Cold water

Whisk together 2 cups of flour, undissolved yeast and sugar in a large bowl until combined well. Stir in the softened butter using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Pour in the hot tap water all at once then beat with an electric mixer on high speed for two minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in another cup of flour and mix on high for one minute; scrape down the bowl. Gradually fold in a quarter cup more of the flour using a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Lightly flour a work board and turn the dough out onto the work surface; round it up to form a ball. Flour hands and knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes incorporating enough flour as needed so it doesn't stick to work surface (if necessary, use a bench scraper). Stop kneading when dough is smooth and elastic and an indentation made by gently poking the dough with index finger fills back in. (Not sure how to knead? See the helpful video below from The Kitchn before tackling this recipe.)

Coat a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and drop in the dough. Roll dough around to lightly coat dough with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then with a kitchen towel; let rest 20 minutes. 

Punch dough in the center to deflate then divide dough into 2 equal portions. Prepare work surface by lightly greasing down with olive oil then roll out each portion into an 8 inch by 15 inch rectangle. Brush tops of each rectangle with olive oil using a pastry brush. Combine the oregano and thyme in a small bowl or cup to mix well. Sprinkle each rectangle of dough evenly with the dried herbs. Roll up tightly like a jelly roll, beginning with the short side for shorter, thicker loaves or the long side for thinner, longer loaves (I like doing it short side because you get more swirls of herbs). Seal lengthwise well by pinching dough together. Then pinch ends together and tuck under for a smooth end. Carefully place seam side down onto greased baking sheets. Brush lightly with oil. Slash tops of loaves diagonally at 3 inch intervals with a very sharp knife. Cover baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap and a clean towel. Place in a warm spot and allow to rise for 3 hours. (Alternately, refrigerate covered dough for up to 24 hours at a moderately cold setting for a cool rise and when ready to bake, remove from refrigerator, uncover and let stand for 10 minutes before baking.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the tops of each loaf gently with ice water. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Test for doneness by thumping loaf bottoms; they should sound hollow. Remove loaves immediately to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing.

How to Knead Bread Dough

Here's an informative how-to from the awesome ladies over at The Kitchn:

I have some fun things planned for Confessions this coming year including a writing schedule that should bring you more consistent content. Wish me luck! Am looking forward to hearing from you this year!

Until next time …
!Buen Provecho!
~ Ani


  1. Oh, yum yum. Looks lovely. Might have to get over my fear of making bread just for this one.
    Happy 2014, Ani!

  2. Happy 2014 to you, too, Colette! I had never made bread before tackling this. Made it a couple of times to make sure I had everything worked out before posting. It's yummy and easy. Am totally ready to try more. Bread making fear conquered! :-)


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