The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pain de Provence

Pain de Provence

pain de provence

It is getting to be harvest season in my part of the world, and that means herbs are cheap and plentiful. Now is a great time to try baking an herb bread.

You can bake wonderful herb breads with whatever you have on hand: rosemary, dill, basil, thyme, mint, chives, you name it. I happen to have an excess of Herbes De Provence on hand, a mixture of savory, thyme, fennel, and lavender that you can find in most specialty grocery stores or order online.

I used my standard poolish french bread as the base for this, then added the liqueur and herbs recommended by Bernard Clayton in his recipe for Pain de Provence in his Complete Book of Breads. Feel free to experiment and use a different dough as the base.

pain de provence

Pain De Provence

Makes 1 large loaf

1 cup bread or all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

All of the poolish
2 cups bread or all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup Herbes de Provence
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup liqueur such as Beauchant, Grand Marnier, or orange Curaçao
1/4-1/2 cup water, as necessary

The night before baking, make the poolish by mixing together 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of yeast to make a batter. Cover the container with plastic wrap and set aside for 8 to 16 hours until you are ready to make the final dough.

To make the dough, combine the remaining flour with the remaining yeast, salt, and herbs. Add the poolish, the liqueur, and 1/4 cup of the additional water. Mix the ingredients, and, if necessary, add more water or flour until the proper consistency is reached (tacky but not so sticky that the dough sticks to your hands).

Knead by hand for 10 to 15 minutes or in a mixer for 5 to 10 minutes. Place the dough in a well-greased bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise until doubled in size, approximately 90 minutes. Remove it from the bowl and gently degas it, then return it to the bowl, cover it, and allow it to double in size again.

Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a ball or long loaf. Cover the loaf with a damp towel and allow it to rise again until doubled in size, which takes between 60 and 90 more minutes.

While the loaf is in its final rise, preheat the oven and baking stone, if you are using one, to 450. I also preheat a brownie pan into which I pour a cup of hot water just after placing the loaf in the oven. This creates steam in the oven which increases the crunchiness of the crust.

Just prior to placing the loaf in the oven, score the top of it with a sharp knife or razor blade.

Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 20 minutes at 450, then rotate it 180 degrees and reduce the oven temperature to 375 and baked it another 25 minutes. The internal temperature of the loaf should be in the ball park of 200 degrees when you remove it from the oven.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least a half an hour before serving, if you can resist.

pain de provence

I couldn't.


SourdoLady's picture

OMG, Floyd, that is such a beautiful loaf of bread! It is absolutely perfect, including the spacing of the slashes. What did you use to do your slashing--a lame with a curved blade, or just a straight blade of some sort? The eye appeal is just wonderful.

About the bread--isn't 1/2 cup of herbs a lot? How did it taste? Are you talking fresh herbs (more bulk) or dried? Sorry for all the questions, but I really love the looks of your loaf.

I can't believe it took me a week to find this post. I have my computer set to go automatically to the forums page from a link in my favorites. I think I'm going to have to change that because I'm missing out on the home page.

Floydm's picture

Thank you for the compliments. I agree, this probably was the prettiest loaf of bread I've ever baked. I hope I can pull it off again! :)

To score the top I used a cheapo, homemade curved lame:


The handle is a coffee stirring stick courtesy of Starbucks, the blade just a double-edged razor blade.

Typically I am awful at scoring loaves-- you'll notice I haven't done a lesson on scoring yet... that's because I'm not confident enough doing it to give anyone advice yet-- but I got lucky this time. I think part of why it worked out well is that the dry herbs absorbed enough water to make the dough fairly stiff, which makes scoring a heck of a lot easier.

I had the same thought, that a half a cup of herbs would be too much. But Herbes de Provence are pretty mild, and I really didn't find the flavor to be overwhelming. Sure, the herbs definitely dominated the loaf, but that was the point.

Paddyscake's picture

Beautiful loaf Floyd! I just wanted to say that I made this
today and it is awesome. I think the lavender in the herb mix is
what makes it incredible, the aroma while cooking is heavenly
and the flavor after is wonderful. Most definitely a favorite!
Thank you..
Oh..PS..I didn't have any orange I used a raspberry
liquer I made last summer..very subtle taste. Pleasant flavor,
but I don't think it is necessary to still come out with an
excellent's not what makes this a winner. As you said,
a splash of OJ or water would be just fine.

crumbbum's picture

In spite of being on weightwatchers now, I'm going to make this tonight. I entered the ingredients in the ww points calculator, and if I can make it into 20 servings, it's only 2 points per serving, and Amy will be home to help me demolish it, so the damage won't be entirely on my hips.

Anyway, I don't have a suitable liqueur, only some questionable Irish creme. Do you think it contributed significantly to the bread, or should I be okay just using water to make up the extra liquid? Or maybe I should add a spot of sugar or maybe molasses to the mix?

Floydm's picture

I couldn't taste the liqueur. The flavor of the herbs totally overwhelmed it. I would just substitute in water or a splash of orange juice.

crumbbum's picture

water it'll be, then, unless I go out today. not a drop of OJ in the house, either.

jeffbrook1's picture


The bread looks great, I am giong to try it tonight. On the water, you didn't indicate temperature. Is it room temp or hotter that that?


Baking in Africa

Floydm's picture

Yes, room temperature.

RichC's picture

I'm looking for an herb bread because I have an abundance of fresh basil, rosmary and thyme in the garden right now, but I'm not sure how this would work out with fresh herbs. I think you're supposed to double the amount of herbs if you're using fresh, but how do you think that would work out. A cup of herbs?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I find my fresh herbs are stronger and have better aroma than dried ones. But I prefer to mix them in cream cheese or cottage cheese and spread them on the bread. Mini Oven

RichC's picture

I ended up using the Italian bread recipe from BBA as a base, and then I added basil, rosemary and thyme. I'm guessing it's about a Tbsp of each. I should have hot bread in about 4 hours now. I'll start a new thread to post the results.

yholmes's picture

I discovered this WONDERFUL site a few weeks ago and have been experimenting since then - i am a brand new bread baker. My favorite bread so far is FloydM "My Pain Sur Poolish (Daily Bread)". I saw this Pain de Provence recipe today and decided to give it a try and use up my herbs from the garden.

However, i am wondering why the 3rd rise? I changed it up a bit and used some WW flour & fresh basil, thyme, rosemary & oregano. i'll let you know how it goes! Great site - just exactly what i was looking for!

Floydm's picture

However, i am wondering why the 3rd rise?

Umm... because the original recipe called for it?

Seriously.... I'm sure you could get a very good bread without three rises. Typically, the longer and slower the fermentation, the better flavor you get. You also tend to get a bread with a longer shelf life. But you could definitely try this with only two rises and probably notice very little difference.

sugarcreations's picture

 I agree. Great loaf Floyd. Looks great!

SDbaker's picture

Floyd, did you refrigerate the poolish or leave it on the counter overnight?

love the site.



Floydm's picture

I leave my poolish on the counter.

mellie581's picture

Hi! thanks so much for creating this site--it's inspired me tremendously and brought me away from the NYT no-knead recipies, except... My bread is like a tennis ball! I tried to make the Pain de Provence and it seems quite rubbery to me. Any suggestions? The crust was not as nice as I had wanted, but not bad. It browned quite quickly, so I put tin foil on top of it to prevent burning. Also, I did use a Doughmakers' bread pan rather than just a stone, so the sides came out a lot lighter than the top. As I was making the dough, I think I added a fair amount more flour than the recipe called for--perhaps I'm not leaving it sticky enough? Odd, though, b/c I did feel the 'change' in the dough that made me think it was don. (Perhaps these are unrelated...)

 The last loaf I made (my first beyond the no-knead recipes) had a lot of whole wheat and was much the a brick.  Well, better with time, I suppose... But does anyone have any ideas on how to improve on this rubber? Thanks!

Ruth Redburn's picture
Ruth Redburn

                Ruth Redburn

How do I find some of these recipes mentioned in the comments?  I would like to find a good Italian bread recipe like we had in Italy.  Thanks,  Ruth

xlperro's picture

I've only been baking for a couple weeks now, but love doing it.

I tried out the Pain de Provence today. My shaping and scoring need some work and I probably took it out of the oven a bit soon but it was 200F in the middle when I did.

Here's the results.

Paddyscake's picture

How did you like it? I think it's a great loaf..

PsDenys's picture

This looks wonderful.

I've only been baking for about a month now and got very similar results to yours in terms of crust and crumb when I made the bread today. I had trouble scoring it with a knife (and don't have a razor blade), so I used scissors. That worked better for me. I'm also still struggling with shaping.

Next time, I think I'll cut back on the herbs. 1/2 a cup left me with very little bread flavor. I think this is because I used dried herbs. Might try fresh next time.

Thanks, Floyd, for a wonderful site.

surfing69's picture

I live in the UK and have tried to convert the cups to grams.  My calculations (if correct) show that the flour is 360g and water is 284g - 340g.  This ratio would give a very wet dough!   And this is not including the liquer.

Whilst I realise that more water creates a more open texture, this recipe would appear very wet. A traditional baguette recipe would use 58g - 64g water for every 100g flour.

Please advise accordingly.


bwraith's picture

I haven't done this recipe, but here are a couple of things to consider.

I would bet the cups would convert better to weight at about 140g/cup. I'm not sure what Floyd uses for his conversions, but Bernard Clayton's book, in which this recipe appears, has a table in the back that says 1 cup of flour is 142g. It probably makes sense to use that conversion ratio. Unfortunately, volume measures vary over a wide range for flour, since people have different methods of packing the flour. I've seen estimates by different authors of anywhere from about 110 grams to about 155g of flour to the cup.

Another factor is that the spices in this bread may absorb some water. I could imagine a half cup of spices absorbing an ounce or two of water.

Overall, if you use 142g/cup, that's 426g of total flour. If you add the water and liqueur together for 12 total ounces (using the lower water estimate), that's 340g of liquid. Subtract from that 30g of water absorbed by the spices, and you get 310g, which if divided by 426g, is a hydration of 73% or so. It's still a little higher hydration than I would've thought, but maybe the spices use more water than I'm guessing in this example.

One last thing is that flours vary over a fairly wide range in terms of the water they need to absorb for a given consistency. So, what may seem a reasonable consistency, using the proportions in the recipe, to someone using a flour available here in the US, may not seem the same for the flour you're using in the UK. So, some experimentation will be inevitable, given we all have access to somewhat different flours.


boulangertruckee's picture

Maybe the net hydration is less than 73% becuase part of the hydration is liquor alcohol evaporates much faster that H2O. 
A thought>?


Wreinie's picture

I grow a herb garden each year in containers, many many containers and am going to make it my goal to make this absolutely gorgeous bread!!  I guess I really should get ideas from the community on what herbs are most commonly used in breadmaking? 

I grow usually, (giving common names).. mint, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme,(yes, due to the song, always grow them)dill, chamomile, to name a few... I think I may have some lavendar seeds that I am going to start off in starter cups this year already. 

I let a lot of herbs go to waste this last year, but this year, they will be used :) 


I promise that if I can share all my snow with all of you or my cold weather I will :) Don't fret, I am not a stingy snowlover :)

gonzalezbrazil's picture

 This is for me, one of the best breads i´ve ever made in all my life. My bread turns delicious, soften, lighty, tasteful, but unfortunately i ´m worried with 2 problems.

    I set the dough on top of black aluminium baker sheet, pre-heated but the loaf didn´t acquired the brown colour we hv in your bread on the pictures in this recipe. It finished nice but with so much pale colour on crust. And the other problem is that on the bottom of the loaf the dough turns brown  like an overbaked and for me it isn´t good. The final result is a bread with nice colour, nice crust, excelent crumb, delicious freshned, and flavored, but this black colour like an overbaked on bottom don´t let me be completely happy, about the results.

   What´s wrong? What can i do? I baked my bread on a house gas oven, with recomended temperatures! This is my Pan de Provence, delicious , smooth, flavored, but little bit pale!!!My Provence pale delicious Bread: This is my Pan de Provence, delicious , smooth, flavored, but little bit pale!!!

Richard L Walker's picture
Richard L Walker

A coffee stirring stick and double-edged razor blade ... and it fits just so.

Ingenious.  I love it when I can get a hint like this.

Aqua's picture

This is a fantastic recipe. My family just loved it. I baked it without the spices, just plain and it tastes wonderful, the crumb is beautifull. It's moist and soft with a lot of air pockets. I also used sour dough that I had in my fridge.

It makes delicious sandwiches - pate and alfa alfa sprouts mmm good.

I will bake it again and again and try with the spices. I am sure it is even more delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe.


pieulla's picture

I just decided to delve into the world of bread baking today....I have made bagels and naan in the past month, but this is my first loaf and it is delicious....It took so long but the patience paid off!  Although I admit I couldn't wait the 30 minutes to let it cool  :P




Daisy_A's picture

Hi pieulla,

Congratulations on such a great first loaf - it really does look delicious!

Kind regards,  Daisy_A

davidjm's picture

Hey Floyd,

How'd you get that great color on the loaf?  I looked over everyone else's pics and theirs is more white rather than the rich brown color.  Do you think it was the liqueur that enriched the color?  I saw that you didn't think it affected the taste, but what about color?



dmiller3's picture

An excellant bread I have made many times, and you can substitute whole wheat for the dominant flour, if desired.   I have discovered, as have countless  others, that resting dough at critical times gives a much better result that being in a hurry.  I rest my ingredients.

a.  after the dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the bow.  Before kneading for 5 to 10 minutes.   This lets the moisture in the fresh dough become thoroughly assimilated and absorbed

b. Just before the formation or shaping of the loaf---particularly if you cut the dough ball in half or thirds to make baguettes, or smaller boules.  This makes the loaf hold its shape better, and makes handling, slashing, and placing in the oven slightly easier.  Again about 5 minutes.

Maggie Lou's picture
Maggie Lou

dmiller3, I appreciate this resting idea.  I've only baked a few loaves so far and have found that extending even the 2nd raising time has enhanced the height of my 'loaf pan' breads.  I shall indeed try the five minute delays. 

I never dreamed I'd be making bread!  It is so wonderful!

tryanything1nce's picture

I was hoping for some new bread recipes to help me expand my bread baking experience.  I will try not to be intimidated by the gorgeous loaves of bread I see!  This bread sounds like a great change from my usual bread recipe.  I am excited to try it!  I am waiting for the poolish right now...

oceanicthai's picture

ONe of my all-time favorite breads has been the rosemary and olive oil loaf from, of all places, Costco stores in California.  I loved broiling portabella mushrooms, blackened red bell peppers & cheese on top for a delicious open-face sandwich.  I am very excited to make my own with rosemary & sourdough, I have a feeling it will be even better than the loaf I have bought while in the U.S.  The challenge is, of course, trying to find rosemary here.  I would love to use fresh, but if not fresh, than at least not ground.  So we'll see. 

parcelsisters's picture

Just baked this today. What a success! The dough was so soft and pliable. Thanks so much!

Oh, and the crust came out the best -- I've never had it so chewy/ crunchy before. I sprayed it really good with water before popping it in the oven instead of using the brownie pan. Worked great! :-D

So delicious!

redhairedlad's picture

I had tried using a baguette recipe from Artisan Bread Baking. But since I don't have a stand mixer, I found it dry and couldn't use it. I read where this dough is more hydrated, but still used a poolish, so I borrowed it for my baguettes minus the herbs and liqueur. Then I followed the procedures for making baguettes. It worked and the results were delicious — the crumb was custardy and porous, and the crust was crisp and wonderful!

Sometime I'll have to actually make the Pain de Province — I'll be it will be great! This just may be my "go to" dough!

SallyBR's picture

Just made a loaf of this amazing bread - thanks, Floyd!  - and those who want to take a peek at my production, can jump here


Keep in mind I'm baking in a small oven and had to adapt the recipe to make a smaller batch. I also had some issues with my improvised method for generating steam, and butchered the top of my loaf right when it went into the oven


but, the bread survived my attempts at ruining it!  :-)

breadsoldier's picture

Thanks for the great recipe, and guidance on this fabulous loaf. I did ease up on the herb quantity, but given how it perfumed the house and then became a memory, my family and I didn't think it was a loss. Perfect crust too with my first attempt at steaming. Again...Thanks! A keeper for sure.



djkessler's picture

I've been making bread once/week for about 5 weeks. Last week, I made a half recipe of "My Daily Bread" ( and thought I'd make it again but using some rye flour in place of some of the bread flour. I was looking at this recipe and when I forgot to halve the measurements for the poolish, I thought switch and make this instead.

I made a few modifications, I have some fresh rosemary and savory and fresh dill weed that I had bought for a soup. Since I chopped the herbs, which I also heated for 30-60 seconds in a dry frying pan, they don't show up very clearly in the picture.

I also substitued 3/4 cup of rye flour (a somewhat coarser grind than other flour) for 1/2 cup of bread flour. And I used active dry yeast rather than instant/quick rise yeast increasing the quantity of yeast a bit in the main dough recipe but not the poolish.

Other than that, I think I made it all according to the recipe -- even to the curved slashes in the star shape.   :-)

The bread came out well but I'd like to figure out how to tone down the sourdough taste that I think is coming from the poolish. (I'm not a big sourdough bread fan which is why I am starting to make my own bread.)

Thanks for the recipe Floyd.

I've included a couple of pictures:

Yeyette's picture

Hi everyone,

I tried this recipe today! The bread was "easy" to make, but its wayy too much herbs, totally over runs the flavor, next time just use 1/4 cup , maybe it could be the type of herbs I used, really fresh ones straight from France...this could make a difference as well...Aside from this, the bread was good.

Li B's picture
Li B

I see you can substitute; but keeping in mind cooking is a science what difference will liquor make (as well as why was it chosen in the first place)?

I've been looking for the perfect hard crust slightly chewy crumb (that will last 2 days) and this looks gorgeous!

I used a lot of rather different left overs as substitutions and it's proving. I used up all the orange liquor making margaritas so I'm using a combo of tequila, blood orange juice and as both are more sour, home made orange/lime syrup. (from an orange, olive oil, greek yogurt, almond, cardamon semolina cake- yum! Hence no oranges).

Used herbs from my garden that would go w Mexican & 1/4 of a finely diced brown onion; wonder if I should have cooked this first? Threw in some leftover ( baked w paprikas, EVO, chilli etc.) blitzed Mexican style seeds: pepitas, sunflower and sesame seeds Want to make poached chicken, bacon, guacamole sandwiches if it works.

Will add coriander fresh to filling - has anyone tried baking this herb (cilantro) in?

Li B's picture
Li B

20 more minutes cooking but then 30 mins cooling to go - if this tastes as good as it smells right now I don't know if it will make the party:) it's crazy how exciting waiting for a "simple" Loaf of bread can be!

Ok I started stealing thin slices off the end after <10 minutes (your bread will be better if you don't ) but the crust is better than I can buy here for $7 a loaf & the crumb is also good. I better start making more now, I dont have any seeds left but they were really nice.

My dark secret ? - Today when i went shopping, the spot with the $3 a kilo 000 bread flour was sold out, so I made this with the Aldi brand 90cents a kilo flour cheap cheap plain flour I had at home. So if you're on a budget/ dont want to try without special flour you can still achieve a delicious result.

BreadLoafer's picture

Thanks for this excellent recipe, Floyd.

This was my first bread-making effort and the results were delicious enough to turn us into bread-obsessed zombies (Grains! Grains!). The half-cup of dried herbs packed a strong punch when the bread was plain, but balanced beautifully against everything we threw at it. God bless the French! :) A pic of the semi-savaged boule:

7ardys's picture

I have GOT to try this recipe.  Thank you!

FlyinAggie's picture

So beautiful!  On my list and bookmarked!  Do you use a template for slashing?

LisaKCorcoran's picture

Thank you for this killer recipe!  I am a first-time from-scratch bread baker and this recipe just put me over the ledge of wanting to bake all types of breads!  I am a chef but not much of a baker.  Changing that today!  I started this loaf last night per your instructions and as luck would have it, I had just a 1/4 c of Grand Marnier..meant to be.  I decided to explore baking in a cast iron pot as I don't have a stone (YET!) and didn't want a pan to form this loaf.  After the rises completed, away it went!  Preheated the oven at 500 with pot in (lid on) and put bread into pot, baked for 30 minutes.  I was going to keep going for another 15 at 425 but it looked done!  I could not resist and have had 3 little pieces with butter.  IT'S SO GOOD!  The herbs make this bread nice and savory, perfect for the holidays! The crust is outstanding, flaky and golden crispy!  My scoring skills need (big!) improvement.  Please do a scoring lesson!)))  THANK YOU!

Mister buster's picture
Mister buster

10.5 years later and no one can replicate the color of the beautiful loaf that inspired so many others! I have no idea if you're reading these comments, but looking through them I see the most common theme is "Wonderful bread but mine is pale", and I share that sentiment.  Any suggestions for improving the color?  Did you wash the bread in something?  Mine is baking just fine, 200F+ degrees inner temperature after the recommended baking time, and nowhere near that beautiful toasted brown in the photos.  This is the third time I have baked it, and it's yummy for sure, but I want it to be beautiful, too!  :)

Julia_T's picture

Hope this works - trying to post two photos of today's loaf. Thank you for the recipe!

Pain de Provence

Julia_T's picture

My version turns out looking somewhat like the author's. I have made it several times over the years; great recipe. 1 cup of the flour was a mix of 3/4 C whole wheat flour and 1/4 C wheat bran. I use rosemary but didn't have enough, so I filled the rest of the half-cup with the zest of two oranges.  When I place the loaf in the oven, I also put in, on another shelf in the oven, a 8x8" brownie pan with 1 cup of boiling water in it (I microwave the water in a Pyrex glass measuring cup). The steam helps make a good crust.  After scoring the top of the loaf, I paint on an egg wash (1 egg + 1 T water, mixed in a small bowl - don't paint on all of it; just enough to cover the loaf).