Pain de Provence (Herb French Bread)

As they say in France, or at least in the region of Provence, there’s a little bit of Provence in every bite. Well if that doesn’t take the cake? This recipe is quite regional due to the sheer amount of herbs and flavors that abound in this recipe. The real secret to this recipe might surprise you?

This bread is overwhelmingly packed with flavor and of course the arousing smell of lavender!

One of the keynotes that jump out first is the lavender smell that will transport you back to a time when French tradition in baking was at its peak. Another satisfying part of this bread is the addition of Herbes de Provence, which I will give you a better idea of what goes into this herb mixture. Additionally, if you’re a fan of Grand Mariner, that added orange twang will set your senses on fire.

Pain de Provence recipe

How to make Herbes de Provence:

This recipe will yield you a total of 1 cup of Herbes de Provence. You will need cup for this recipe- so you can use the rest for another loaf as you like. The dried rosemary and fennel seed do need grinding in a food processor or mixing vessel. The rest can be off-the-shelf herbs you buy at the store and stored in a plastic container. Here’s what you need:


  • Medium-sized mixing bowl
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Baking stone
  • Mixing spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Kitchen mixer with bread hooks
  • Silicone pastry matt
  • Large bread knife


  • 2 Tablespoons Rosemary (dried)
  • 2 Tablespoons Fennel seed
  • 2 Tablespoons Savory (dried)
  • 2 Tablespoons Thyme (dried)
  • 2 Tablespoons Basil (dried)
  • 2 Tablespoons Marjoram (dried)
  • 2 Tablespoons Iavender flowers (dried)
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley (dried)
  • 1 Tablespoons Oregano (dried)
  • 1 Tablespoons Tarragon (dried)
  • 1 Teaspoons Bay powder

For the Poolish (make this mixture 8-18 hours before you start your dough mix)

  • 1 Cup Bread flour
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Instant yeast

For the bread dough

  • The Poolish mixture from a day before
  • 2 Cup Bread flour
  • 1 Cup Herbes de Provence (see instructions)
  • 1 Teaspoon Instant yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • Dash of sugar (for yeast activation)
  • ¼ Cup Grand Mariner (orange liquor)
  • ¼ Cup Warm water (95-105F degrees)

Prepping your dough properly:

rise up dough in bowl

The night before, you can easily make this Poolish mixture. The reason this is needed is to help make your bread ferment more thoroughly. It was invented by chefs in Vienna but later adopted by the French for their bread-making processes. It’s very simple and takes a medium-sized bowl. It requires one cup of bread flour and one cup of water. Then as you fill up a cup of room temperature water, add teaspoon of instant yeast.

Mix this well until it makes a one-to-one paste and then cover it with plastic wrap. Let it stand no more than 8-18 hours for the best results. The longer the better, so you can make it in the early afternoon just one day before. This will begin to ferment the flour in advance, giving you an impressive bread loaf for your final product.

How to make your dough:

dough ingredients on table

Into a large bowl, add 2 cups of bread flour, cup of Herbes de Provence, and 1 teaspoon instant yeast. Now add your Poolish mixture, the Grand Mariner, and 1/4 cup of warm water to this mixture. You don’t have to add a pinch of sugar unless the weather or the temperature in your kitchen is cooler than 80°F . Now mix this all together until you need to add more water if you need. No more than a total of cup or even half of that.

If you don’t feel like kneading the dough you can scrape this mixture into a kitchen mixer with bread hooks to do the mixing for you. Most people don’t mind mixing by hand but bread dough needs to be folded every 30 minutes for the next two hours. If you have it in the mixer just turn it on for one minute or so- every half hour for two hours. After this, you need to scrape your bread dough out of the mixer and form it into a rounded ball.

Now you will cover this dough with a clean damp towel and let it sit for the second proofing, or until it doubles in size after 60-90 minutes. When it reaches this point, you’re ready for baking.

Cooking your bread:

cooking dough in oven

Now you need to preheat your oven to 450°F with your baking stone inside. Add some bread flour to the top so you can slide your dough into the stone. Before you move your dough, score the very top of the dough three times to make a cross-hatch pattern. Carefully move your dough to the top of an upturned cookie tray dusted with bread flour and then quickly slide your dough into the baking stone.

Bake this for the next 20 minutes and then rotate the bread 180°F on the cooking stone. This will give you bread an evenly-baked texture. Now you need to reduce the oven heat to 375°F for another 25 minutes. By the end of this period, the internal temperature of your bread has reached 200°F Fahrenheit. At this point, you can transfer your loaf back onto the upturned cookie sheet and allow it to cool for half an hour.

Also see: a thinner and lighter traditional bread

Serving suggestion:

Using a large serrated kitchen bread knife you can start making slices as thick or thin as you like. This bread can be used for sandwiches, or as a side next to a nice hot soup or stew. It can be enjoyed by itself with some red wine and cheese for an afternoon picnic likewise. In other words, what you add to this fantastic bread is entirely up to your defining tastes.

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