Basque Sheepherder's Bread

I like to serve the whole loaf of Basque Sheepherder's Bread at the table, letting guests tear off what they want, and dipping into single servings of warm olive oil infused with herbs.



  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 7 to 7 1/2 cups unbleached flour

Italian Bread Dip

  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Bread:In a very large bowl combine butter, sugar, salt and hot water. Stir only until butter is melted. Set aside so ingredients can cool until they are warm.
  2. Stir in yeast. Cover and set aside in a warm place until it bubbles, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add 5 cups flour and beat vigorously with a large wooden spoon until batter is smooth.
  4. Add more flour (about 2 cups) to form a stiff dough.
  5. Knead, with long strokes, for about 10 minutes on a floured board. Add only enough flour to prevent sticking.
  6. Place dough in a large greased bowl; cover with a damp dish towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled — about 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Punch down and knead for about 10 minutes. Form a smooth ball.
  8. Using solid shortening, generously grease sides and inside lid of a cast iron Dutch oven. Cut a round of foil and place in the bottom of Dutch oven. Dust it lightly with flour.
  9. Place dough in Dutch oven and cover. Let rise in a warm place until dough pushes up lid.
  10. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  11. Place Dutch oven in middle of oven. Bake for 12 minutes.
  12. Carefully loosen any raw edges with knife, then lift off lid. The lid's circled print should be on top of the loaf. Bake bread, uncovered, for 45 to 50 minutes more or until golden. Cover loosely with foil the last 20 minutes to prevent overbrowning.
  13. Remove from oven.
  14. Loosen loaf from Dutch oven with a flat table knife, and place on a wire rack to cool.
  15. Italian Bread Dip: Place herb seasoning over a small plate.
  16. Add cheese.
  17. Season to taste with sea salt.
  18. Pour oil over spices to cover center of plate. Gently swirl plate to moisten spices.
  19. Serve as a dipping sauce with crusty bread.

From the kitchen of Linda Jolly.