In January, the #Baketogether group I participate in was given as our inspiration from Abby Dodge, a bread called boule (from the French word ball). I had loaned my cake pans to a friend for a multi-layered cake she was baking so ending up using an unusual shaped pan that I had forgotten about and the result was, well, cute but not exactly the proscribed ball!
I had some Meyer lemons on hand and so incorporated lemon into my version which I finished with a topping of turbinado sugar. It wouldn’t be fair to call it sweet but I’ve been wanting to make an obviously savory version since then. With the mild winter we’ve had in Colorado I was actually able to pick some of my own thyme last week for this version. I expect to be able to gather sage for Thanksgiving; it’s a robust plant with tough stems and thick leaves, but I remain amazed at how tough thyme is considering how delicate the leaves are; as long as it’s not hidden under snow I can harvest and use it almost all winter long even if the leaves have turned a bit darker.
Considering that the word boule does come from the French word ball, this version is going against the grain even more than my first. Wanting to roll a garlic and thyme mixture throughout the center forced me to use yet another under used pan. Maybe Abby’s real purpose is to get us to sort through our bakeware and find inspiration from that effort?
Totally different yet similar in that this is just a great, simple bread recipe and that allows for a wide range of possibilities. Herbs, oil, cheeses…they can all contribute to you enjoying some of your own ‘boule boule’ (yes, to the tune of wooly wooly!).
I love that this bread is easy enough for the beginner and yet sophisticated enough for the experienced bread maker; try it and have some fun of your own!
Garlic and Thyme Bread
A beautiful round bread filled with garlic, butter and thyme.
For the Filling
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
For the Bread
- 3 1/3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1 packet (1/4 ounce) instant yeast (Rapid Rise)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/3 cups very warm water (between 115 and 125 degrees)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
To Prepare the Filling:
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic and cook on low heat for approximately 2-3 minutes to soften.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Add 2 tsp of thyme leaves and let sit until ready to use.
To Prepare the Bread:
- In a large bowl of electric stand mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, sugar, salt baking powder and 1 tsp of thyme together.
- Check that the water temperature registers about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (In order for this type of yeast to grow, the liquid needs to be between 115 and 125 degrees.)
- Using a dough hook and with the mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour the water into the flour and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the bottom and sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes.
Don’t venture too far away while it’s mixing as the mixer might dance around on the counter.
- Scoop up the dough and shape it into a ball. Lightly grease (using some of the melted butter) the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and pop the dough, rounded side up, back into the bowl. Cover the top securely with plastic wrap. (I like to use a large rubber band to hold the plastic in place.) Let the covered dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Using some of the melted butter, generously butter an 9-inch round tube pan. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface (there’s no need to flour—the dough is soft but not sticky) and press to deflate it. Shape the dough into a long rectangle equal to the circumference of your pan (mine was approximately 25" X 5").
- Spread the cooled garlic mixture on the bread to within 3/4 inch of the sides. Roll the dough into a long, narrow rope and place it in the buttered pan.
- Score the top of the bread if desired)
- Let the dough rise (no need to cover it) in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 25 minutes. It will fill the pan. Brush the top with melted butter.
- About 15 minutes before the dough is ready to bake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and the oven to 375°F. When the dough has risen to about 2 inches above the edge of the pan, bake until the bread is well browned and sounds hollow when tapped about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and tip the baked bread onto a rack and remove the pan. Set it right side up and let cool completely. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
Prep time does not include time required to rise.