Feb 23, 2017

Bastounakia with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

These Bastounakia are Greek in origin, and are layered with olive oil and herbs. This bread is super crusty and is perfect served warm from the oven. 

Bastounakia with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

Bastounakia are a Greek bread made with a lean and sticky dough, spread with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt and herbs. I filled these with a combination of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme in honor of one of my all time favorite record albums. They are so delicious, just as you would expect an herb filled lean bread would be. The best part? You can serve them fresh from the oven. For once, no waiting for them to cool!

I've made this Bastounakia formula a couple of times, experimenting with the amount of water and salt added to the dough, as well as the shaping. I'm really happy with the flavor of these rolls.

These are kind of a cross between baguettes and breadsticks, and are usually long and thin. The first time I made these, I cut them into long strips. The second time, I decided to cut them into shorter fatter bread sticks. Hopefully the Greek bread police won't come and arrest me! If you'd like a more "breadstick" like shape, just stretch out the cut dough pieces slightly before placing them on the baking sheet.

Bastounakia with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

Bastounakia are sometimes referred to as "salt sticks." Traditionally they do not have any salt in the dough, but are liberally sprinkled with salt during the folding and filling process. I have added some salt to the dough because I think that salt needs some time to develop flavor.

I loved the flavor of the herbs in this bread. Use any herbs you have on hand to make these. I also think substituting some sun dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, seeds, and/or dried mixed onions (after soaking them in water) would be delicious in these rolls.... and of course, grated cheese!

The dough for these Bastounakia is pretty sticky and might frustrate you. Rest assured, it is very forgiving, and the final rolls will make you very happy.

This bread is wonderful served with this Greek salad or this tomato, cucumber, and red onion salad with latholemono dressing. This bread is also wonderful served as dinner rolls.

If you'd like truly authentic Greek recipes, you should check out a great blog, Little Cooking Tips, by Mirelle and Panos, who blog from Athens, Greece. It's one of my favorite food blogs. These rolls would be wonderful with their Pastitsio, or Greek lasagna, which I need to make very soon!

This bread takes a couple of days to make, because you will make a preferment to develop flavor. If you have a sourdough starter, feel free to use it to make your predough.




  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) warm water
  • 150 grams (1 generous cup) unbleached all purpose flour
  • pinch of yeast
Final Dough
  • All of the preferment
  • 1.5 grams (3/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 210 grams (less than one cup) water
  • 300 grams (2 1/3 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • Olive oil
  • Course sea salt or Kosher salt
  • Handful of fresh herbs (I used equal amounts of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme) chopped together


  1. To make the preferment: mix the water, flour, and yeast in a small bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 12 to 48 hours.
  2. To make the final dough: Add the predough, additional yeast, water, flour, and sea salt to the bowl of a stand mixer, and knead for about 7 to 10 minutes, until smooth. The dough should be fairly sticky.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a flour dusted work surface. Stretch the dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick. Using your hands or a pastry brush, coat the top of the dough with olive oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for one hour.
  4. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough, and sprinkle it lightly with the sea/Kosher salt. Sprinkle the entire surface with some of the herb mixture.
  5. Fold one side of the dough to the middle, and then fold the other side over it, like an envelope.
  6. If you need to, flour your work surface so that the dough doesn't stick. With oiled hands, press the dough out to a rectangle again. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and herbs. Fold again like and envelope. Press out the dough for a third time, brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and herbs, and fold like an envelope.
  7. Lightly flour the top of the dough, flip it over, and oil the top of the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 45 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a knife, bench scraper, or pizza cutter, cut the dough widthwise into strips about 1 inch wide. Place them on the prepared baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Bake them for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (or serve immediately!)
Yield: 16 rolls

Adapted from The Book of Buns

Bastounakia with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme


  1. Karen, thank you so much for this...have been wanting to make a layered bread for a few weeks now and this looks perfect! Starting the preferment today...will tell you how it went! Wondering whether my homemade tomato and garlic pickle would be a good filler....going to try different fillings....

    1. That sounds interesting! I bet it would be very nice.

  2. Book of Buns is delightful! (thank heavens I already own it)

    Karen I meant to ask you, how do you decide on a bread to make? You are so diversified as a baker, and I just wonder if you rotate your cookbooks, or if you pick a type or region and then search for recipes?

    always very inspiring....

    1. This is my first recipe from that book. Other than the Forkish book, which I obsessively baked my way through just like BBA, I just grab a book and flip through it until something looks really interesting. Also, the Bread Bakers group has monthly themes, so I use those as inspiration. These last two months I've made the 4 hour bread 6 or 7 times to test it, so I've not been trying new breads much, except this one! I need to get back on it. So many bread books, so little time (or room in my freezer).

  3. Wow Karen. What a great honor, to be recommended by an accomplished blogger like you! We remember how we "met" you via G+ a few years ago when we started our journey in the food blogging world, taking a lot of inspiration from your work. You actually gave us the first tips on photography:) So, it was a really touching and emotional moment for us to read your last paragraph.
    It's truly an honor.
    As for the Greek breadsticks, no police here, of course anyone can shape them the way one prefers:) Our favorite ones are those with kefalotyri (you can substitute with Pecorino romano). Your suggestion for herbs-filled bastounakia with some Greek salad is really awesome! We'd LOVE to give a try in about a month, when the first tomatoes of the spring will be available here.
    Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the love. We appreciate it!!!
    Mirella and Panos

    1. I remember "meeting" on G+ too! I love your blog, and I so appreciate all of your kind comments.

      So glad you approve of the shaping! I've had Italian commenters take me to task before for using regional names on bread because I made it here rather than in the specific Italian region, lol!! That cheese sounds delicious in the bread! xoxo


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