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since this is my first thread and I'm not a baker myself I hope you can help me as best as possible.

I'm visiting my gran on the farm this weekend - she's the amazing chef and brilliant baker. She grows her own herbs in the garden and I was hoping she could experiment with adding a more savoury/"herby" taste to her freshly baked scones, bread and rusks. Some of her herbs include: Basil, origanum, thyme, rosemary, licorice, mint.

So, I hope you guys have some ideas and thanks ahead :)

  • Have to be careful adding non-dryed herbs. I made a loaf with chopped fresh Basil once. It went moldy inside, overnight. The moisture in the leaves is a problem. – Wayfaring Stranger May 30 '14 at 13:31
  • Hello! We don't make recommendations on taste pairings, because these are completely subjective and our site specializes in non-subjective questions only! I considered closing, but seeing how the answers turned out (skirting the pairing issue and giving good advice beyond it), I think we can keep the question open. I am still going to protect it so we don't get people who don't know the site chime in with "I like bread with thyme" or whatever. – rumtscho May 31 '14 at 23:18
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I won't offer any suggestions on what type of herbs you should use in your recipes - that is entirely up to you and what you like. Experiment with different flavors and combinations from a basic base, or there are plenty of recipes freely available on the Magical Interwebs for savory breads.

The technical answer is, generally dried herbs are preferable when baking because they contribute no moisture to the recipe, and because they generally have lots of time to infuse their flavor into the dough. Fresh herbs are nice (and it sounds like you have plenty of them available) but you need to consider a few things:

  1. Dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor, so you will need to need to use a larger quantity of fresh herbs when substituting them for dried in recipes. The most common rule of thumb seems to be about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs for dried, maybe a bit lower if you've got really nice and fresh herbs with intense flavor.
  2. Certain leafy herbs (basil, mint) will retain and contribute some moisture. It's doubtful that you'll be using enough in any recipe to throw off its water balance, but beware of using large amounts. if you want a strong flavor for these herbs it's best to use dried. Also, these items can get really bitter when bruised or otherwise mistreated, and that bitterness will wind up in your bread. Not so tasty.
  3. Particular herb flavors will stand up very well to baking, and others will not. I find that some savory flavors like thyme and oregano mellow out when baked but still retain their character. Rosemary will work well in baked goods but has a very intense flavor, so you'll want to use a bit less than other herbs. Other delicate flavors like mint don't do well when baked, both because of the bruising problem noted above and because they're so delicate.

Also note that it's pretty easy, if a little time-intensive, to create your own dried herbs from fresh, which is a great idea for extended storage.

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There's no right or wrong answer, it all depends on what flavors you like. All those you listed can be extracted into baked goods.

As for how to go about it my recommendation would be to infuse oil with the herb flavors and then add the oil as a component of the dough. Add some chopped or whole herbs to the dough to add a herby look.

protected by rumtscho May 31 '14 at 23:18

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