Herb and Za’atar Savoury Twist Bread

22 September 2023

Za’atar is a fragrant Middle Eastern spice mixture of herbs, sesame seeds and dried sumac. It gives this bread a truly distinctive flavour. Soft, rich and showstopping, the savoury bake is a lovely addition to soups or saucy dishes.  

Serves: 6 (makes one large loaf) 
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus rising and proving  
Cooking Time: 30-35 minutes 
You will need a 2.1L (3 lb) non-stick greased loaf tin



  • 400g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt  
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 7g fast action dried yeast
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 180ml warm water
  • Milk to glaze 

Herby filling

  • 100g salted butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Large handful mixed fresh herbs, finely chopped (e.g. parsley, coriander, sage and oregano)
  • 3 tbsp za’atar 

For a quicker alternative, swap the herby filling for pesto and grated mozzarella.  


  1. Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  
  2. Add the olive oil, egg and warm water and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy. If you have a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and knead for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise at room temperature for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. 
  4. Place the butter, garlic and herbs in a small bowl and beat until well mixed.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for a few minutes, then roll out to form a rectangle measuring 40cm x 25cm. 
  6. Spread the dough with the herb butter leaving a 2cm border along the edges.
  7. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of zaatar evenly over the butter.
  8. Starting from one of the long edges, roll up the dough into a tight sausage shape. 
  9. Cut the sausage in half lengthways and twist the 2 pieces together like a rope. 
  10. Press the ends together and tuck gently underneath. 
  11. Lift carefully into the tin. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise at room temperature for about an hour of doubled in size.
  12. Heat the oven to 180°C fan/gas 6.
  13. Brush the loaf with milk and sprinkle with remaining zaatar. 
  14. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown. Check the loaf after 25 minutes and cover loosely with foil if it’s browning too quickly. 
  15. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool. 
  16. Slice or tear to serve.