Servings: 8-12Prep Time: 2-2.5 hours Cook Time: 25 minutes
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Italian herb blend (dried)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
In a medium-sized bowl, stir together garlic powder, herbs, and 2 cups of the flour. Add water, salt, sugar, oil, and yeast. Beat well with a sturdy spoon until lumps are gone. Add next 2 cups of flour gradually, mixing in the flour until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn onto a floured, flat surface and knead , working in the remaining flour until the dough is smooth and elastic. Note: flour amount is approximate and can be affected by humidity and other factors.
Let dough rise in a greased, covered bowl until doubled – about an hour, more or less, depending on room temperature. With floured (or greased) hands, knead a bit more to flatten the air bubbles, then divide the dough.
For rolls: divide dough in fourths. Divide each section in half if you want large rolls (8), or into thirds if you want smaller rolls(12). Shape each piece of dough into a rounded ball and place in greased pan with rolls touching but not squeezed tightly together. A 9 x 9 square cake pan or an 8 x 10 oval casserole dish will work. Let rise until more than doubled. Bake 25 minutes in preheated 350-degree oven.
For braided loaf: divide dough into thirds. If using a regular loaf pan for your braided loaf, roll each third into a thick rope shape that is about two inches longer than the pan. (If using a 9 x 13 cake pan or a baking sheet, you can shape the ropes longer and thinner .) Lay the three long pieces on a flat surface, pinch the top ends lightly together, and braid to the end. Tuck the braided loaf into greased pan, tucking the ends under. Let rise until tall. Bake 25 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven.
Tip: For a long, slender braided loaf, shape and braid directly on the baking sheet or on parchment paper so you don’t risk stretching the loaf out of shape when shifting it to the pan. Also, a long, thin loaf won’t take as long to bake, so start checking it closely at 15-20 minutes baking time.
Submitted by: laurap on September 1, 2011