Rustic Thyme Bread

This loaf of bread was born out of my new found love of thyme.  I started growing it this past summer and gained a whole new appreciation for the delicious herb.  It's so easy to maintain that it practically takes care of itself.  A total win.  

The weather has been getting colder and that means soups are on the menu at least once a week in this house.  I know most people don't consider soup and sandwiches a dinner meal, but we love that here.  (Plus that means there is usually room for dessert those nights!)  I knew I was making a tomato based soup this particular evening and since thyme + tomatoes = true love, I whipped up this crusty, chewy bread and made the best grilled cheese I've ever had with it.  Of course when I smear Boursin cheese on anything it could be considered the "best ever".  That stuff is phenomenal. 

The ingredient list is short making this bread really easy to put together.  I like to bake boule shaped loaves in a dutch oven.  The crust gets all thick and chewy and perfect.  If you don't have a dutch oven or would just rather not use one, place the boule on a sheet pan or stone and bake.

Rustic Thyme Bread

20 ounces (about 4 cups) bread flour 
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cups water, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (can sub.dried)
shredded asiago cheese, for topping

Mix ingredients together in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Knead for about 8 minutes or until dough is soft and pliable.  Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place dough into refrigerator and let rise for at least 8 hours or overnight.  

When ready to bake remove dough from refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 30 to 45 minutes.  Shape loaf into boule and place into bowl lined with parchment paper (this makes transfering it to dutch oven much easier).  Allow to rise until doubled, one to two hours.  

When dough has almost doubled, place dutch oven in oven and preheat at 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes (remember to remove plastic knob from lid so it doesn't melt).  When oven is preheated and dough has risen, sprinkle with asiago and carefully place dough into dutch oven, by lifting parchment paper.  Slowly place both inside.  Lower oven temperature to 450 and bake bread covered for 20 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until golden and temperature has reached 210 degrees.  Cool on wire rack for at least one hour before cutting.    

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