This French style loaf can be made from start to finish in a little over an hour. It's a hearty loaf that is delicious sliced and lightly toasted and served with soups, stews, and salads
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 1⁄2 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 cups unbleached white flour (approx.)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1⁄2 cups ham or 1 1⁄2 cups pork, cubed
- 1⁄2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried sage, crumbled
- generous grinding black pepper
- Place the yeast in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the warm water and honey and set aside in a warm spot for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is dissolved and begins bubbling. (If the yeast does not bubble it is probably dead. Begin again, using fresh yeast.) Gradually sift the flour and salt into the yeast mixture, stirring constantly until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Sprinkle some flour over a working surface and gently knead the dough for several minutes. Cut the dough in half and roll out one half into a rectangle (like a rectangular pizza) about 14 inches by 10 inches. Brush the dough with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Scatter half the ham over the surface, pressing it gently into the dough. Sprinkle half the cheese on top and scatter half the herbs and a generous grinding of fresh black pepper over the dough. Using your hands, gently roll the dough lengthwise, into the shape of a long cigar. Lightly seal the edges of the dough. Place in a well greased French bread pan (or on a well-greased cookie sheet) and cover with a clean tea towel.
- Make the second loaf.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the two loaves of bread in a dry warm spot and let them sit, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Just before baking, lightly brush the loaves with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the middle shelf of the hot oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bread has a golden brown crust and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.