If using dried yeast, dissolve the sugar in 750 ml (1 pint 7 fl oz) of lukewarm water, then sprinkle in the dried yeast and set aside for 15 minutes, or until it is frothy. If using easy-blend yeast, add it directly to the flour.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir in the herbs. Pour the yeast mixture, or 750 ml (1 pint 7 fl oz) of lukewarm water if using easy-blend yeast, into the centre. Stir to form a stiff dough; add a little extra water 1 tablespoon at a time if it is too dry, or a little extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if too wet. Knead until the dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the bowl clean.
Shape the dough into a ball and grease a clean bowl with oil. Roll the dough around the bowl so that it is lightly coated with oil and loosely cover the bowl with cling film. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, soak 12 clean terracotta flowerpots, 9 cm (3½ in) wide and 7.5 cm (3 in) tall, in water for 15 minutes; this helps to prevent the bread sticking to them. Dry the pots then, using a pastry brush, generously brush the insides with oil.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down and knead for 1-2 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, then shape them into small balls and place one inside each pot – the dough should come just over halfway up the pots. Place the pots on a baking sheet and loosely cover them with a damp cloth. Leave them to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until the dough has risen to the tops of the pots.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 220°C (425°F, gas mark 7). Bake the rolls for 15 minutes, then lightly brush the tops with milk and continue baking for a further 5-10 minutes until they have risen and are browned on top.
Remove the rolls from the oven and allow them to cool in the pots for 15 minutes. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the pots and loosen the rolls by pushing a finger through the hole in the bottom. Serve the rolls in the pots.
Variation: shape the dough into two medium-sized loaves and bake for 30 minutes, or into one large loaf and bake for 45 minutes. To check if a loaf is baked through, tap the base – it should sound hollow.