Basque Sheepherders Bread


Author: Bob and Robin Young

Source: Adapted from "From the Sheepcamp to the Kitchen"

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Degree of Difficulty

Degree of Difficulty: Easy

Oven Temperature: 375°F


Yield: 1 - 2¼ lbs Loaf



Hot water, 160°F or higher



Butter, soft and at room temperature



Clover honey


Kosher salt


Dry Active Yeast


Whole Wheat Flour


All-Purpose Flour

Olive oil


In a large bowl, combine hot water, butter, honey and salt. Stir until butter is melted; let cool to about 110 degrees. Stir in yeast; cover and set in a warm place until bubbly, about 15 minutes.


Beat in about 1¼ cups Whole Wheat flour to make a thick batter. Stir in about 3½ cups of All-Purpose flour to make a stiff dough. Scrape dough onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and satiny, 10 to 20 minutes — adding as little flour as possible to prevent sticking. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled — about 1½ hours.


Punch dough down and knead briefly on a floured board to release air. Shape into a smooth ball. With a circle of foil, cover the inside bottom of a 5-quart cast iron or cast aluminum Dutch oven. Grease foil, inside of Dutch oven, and lid with oil. Place dough in Dutch oven and cover with lid. Let rise in a warm place until dough pushes up lid by about ½ inch, about 1 hour. (Watch closely.) Bake, covered, with a lid in a 375°F oven for 12 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped - 190°F - 200°F.


Remove bread from oven and turn onto a rack to cool. You will need a helper. Peel off foil and turn loaf upright. Makes one 2¼ pound loaf.

Cooking Times

Preparation Time: 3 hours and 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours and 45 minutes