As I mentioned before, I get a lot of inspiration for bread baking over at The Fresh Loaf Forum.  Browsing through their huge collection of recipes, one made me quite nostalgic, thinking about our good times living in France.  I absolutely had to make it: a “boule” loaded with herbes de Provence!  It cannot possibly get much better than that.   The recipe comes from Floyd, The Fresh Loaf’s host and a very accomplished bread baker. He got his inspiration from a recipe found in  Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads.  My copy, by the way, sits patiently at home, waiting for our return…   😉

I cut the recipe in half to make it easier to bake in my small Breville electric oven, but I’m posting the regular version, which will produce a larger loaf.  The dough requires an overnight poolish, but is very simple and straightforward to make.    Don’t be alarmed by the amount of herbs, they perfume the bread with just enough intensity to make you fall in love with it more and more at each bite.

(adapted from Floyd’s recipe)

for the poolish (made 8 to 18 hours before the final dough):
1 cup bread  flour
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

for the dough:
All the poolish made the day before
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup Herbes de Provence
1 + 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier (I substituted orange juice)
1/4-1/2 cup water

The night before baking, make the poolish by mixing together 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of yeast to make a batter. Cover the container with plastic wrap and set aside for 8 to 18 hours until you are ready to make the final dough.

To make the dough, combine the remaining flour with the remaining yeast, salt, and herbs. Add the poolish, the liqueur, and 1/4 cup of the additional water. Mix the ingredients, and, if necessary, add more water or flour until the proper consistency is reached .

Mix by gentle kneading, and leave it undisturbed for 20  minutes in a lightly greased bowl.   Do three more cycles of gentle kneading (or folding)  every 30 minutes.  At the end of the last kneading (a little less than 2 hs of bulk fermentation),  let the dough rise undisturbed  for a full hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball or long loaf. Cover the loaf with a damp towel and allow it to rise again until doubled in size, which takes between 60 and 90 more minutes.

While the loaf is in its final rise, preheat the oven to 450F, with a baking stone inside, if you will be using it.   Just prior to placing the loaf in the oven, score the top of it with a sharp knife or razor blade.

Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 450, then rotate it 180 degrees and reduce the oven temperature to 375 and baked it another 25 minutes. The internal temperature of the loaf should be around 200F.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least a half an hour before serving.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Of all the spices present in herbes de Provence, lavender is the one that I detect first and foremost.  I once visited that part of France at the time when the lavender fields were in full bloom, and the smell everywhere is simply unforgettable.   I thought the amount of herbs in the dough could be a bit excessive, but reading Floyd’s remarks about it gave me the reassurance to make it exactly as he did.  The aroma of the herbs is evident from the moment you mix the dough, but once the bread is midway through baking, you cannot wait to try the first slice.

The crumb is light and airy, and the bread is quite unique for its delicate herbal tones.  I have a special sandwich in mind for this bread,  but that is a story to be told another time…   😉

I am sending this to Yeastspotting….

ONE YEAR AGO:  Golspie Loaf

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22 thoughts on “PAIN DE PROVENCE

  1. This looks great, Sally. Like you, I’m a bit surprised at the sheer amount of herbes de provence called for, but when I make this recipe, I’ll go by the book. I need to buy some new herbes de provence, however.

    An unrelated question for you: I just noticed a new shop in a neighboring town. It seems to be a Portuguese market. I plan to stop in there today to check it out. Any suggestions for a first-time shopper, anything I should look for? Brazil is not mentioned in the online ad for the store, but I’m sure there must be some Portuguese ingredients you’re familiar with, something I’d enjoy cooking with.


    • Paula, what a nice place you found! Well, “alheira” is a very very tasty sausage, with a strong garlic component, and their chourizo is probably different from what you find sold in the US. If you like sausages, those are great.

      Portuguese olive oil is completely different from other types too, I’d definitely get some – not sure which brand, you might ask the owner of the shop for a taste try.

      I could not find ‘piri-piri’ sauce – maybe they list it with a different name, but it’s awesome, definitely ask for it when you stop by.

      Quince jam – sold everywhere in Brazil too, we usually have a small slice next to a farmers type cheese – it has a dark purple color, the white cheese next to it looks pretty gorgeous. This combination is called ‘Romeu e Julieta” in Brazil. Quince jam can be an acquired taste, but if you like sweets, it’s a good thing to get to know

      Tremoceira olives – a must buy….

      well, that’s all I could see on a first browse – let me know if you get their stuff and how you like it!


  2. I get so excited every time I see one of your breads waiting in my inbox! I just love homemade bread. This one sounds like a recipe I might be able to attempt. I still have the sourdough starter rolling around in my head too. 🙂 I would love to see the lavender fields in France some day. I’ve been itching to get back to Europe one of these days. Just trying to determine the best age for the kids. 🙂
    What does it mean to score the top of the bread? Thanks Sally!


  3. Hi, Sally. My schedule today took me to the shop before I had a chance to read your reply. So I will go back for the quince jam. I’ve had that, home-made, in the U.S., and love it.

    I had a lovely chat with the American young man who owns the store and is of Portuguese heritage. He suggested 3 cheeses for me to try. Two of them are rather mild sheep’s milk cheeses, and one is a bit sharper: I bought some Portuguese rolls to tear up and eat with the cheeses after dinner. I also bought a couple of little pastries with a not-too-sweet custard filling, some tuna in olive oil, some white wine vinegar, some olive oil, and even some frozen fava beans. Those are hard to find anywhere, but I love them.

    There is a new restaurant in that same town, called Piri-piri. Must try it!


  4. Sally, get your plane ticket! That’s what I just bought! I had to go ahead and have one after what you said. I agree with you: it’s heavenly. Creamy and sweet but not cloyingly sweet.

    Now I MUST go to Portugal! As Manuelo in the store was saying, people going to Europe for vacation seem to overlook Portugal, for some reason. I plan to rectify that mistake the next time we can plan a trip abroad.


    • Portugal is a wonderful place to visit! We fell in love with it from the first day… I was searching for my photos from our trip, back in 2003, but they must be in some pen drive hidden or perhaps back in Oklahoma.


  5. It look so pretty with the herbs throughout the bread! I bet it smelled amazing as it baked. I’ve taken a couple of weeks off of bread baking, and I’ve missed it. It’s time to knead some dough!


    • Two weeks without baking bread???? Well, that’s pretty much the break I’ve been taking these days. But, this Summer things will change. For the bread baking better, that is….


    • Thanks, Dana… My husband loved it so much he is begging me to make another loaf this weekend. Not sure I’ll be able to do it, but I might surprise him


    • Hi, Barb…
      well, I think it is not too hard, however, if you are not used to the minimal kneading method or to folding dough, maybe you should take a look at the original thread in The Fresh Loaf (I included a link in the post), and use the exact technique that Floyd did. He used a mixer instead of manual kneading and it could be easier for your first time making this bread.

      I hope you try it, and if you have any problems or questions, drop me a line, I’ll try to help you out


  6. I have always been a sucker for a bread with a real crust – so you get a crunch when you bite into a piece. Like the orange juice substitution instead of the orange liqueur. And like Lisa mentions it does look nice with the herbs throughout.


  7. This looks truly wonderful. We love France so anything that reminds us of holidays would be welcomed – I must have a go at this recipe (after we get back from our holiday) though will have to convert it into UK measurements.
    ‘Meanderings through my Cookbook’


  8. … I also clicked on the Pasteis de Nata link and then realised where I had seen the words before: I made some a while back from a Jamie Oliver recipe. They were really delicious and not at all difficult to make. I intend to post the recipe at some point.


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