Tag Archives: bread

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread…

011913104651

“A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and Thou / Beside me singing in the wilderness.”

There are many things from my college English classes that I’ve forgotten, but for some reason, this quote always sticks in my mind.  Now to be fair, I never can remember where it comes from.  But, hey! that’s what Google is for.  (In case you’re interested, it’s from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, translated by Edward FitzGerald.)

The reason that it stays with me is pretty evident.  I love bread.  I mean, I LOVE bread.  As in, I would rather have a good slice of bread than chocolate or ice cream.

011913105146

So when I got a book for Christmas called Flour Water Salt Yeast (thanks, Aunt Care and Uncle Kim!), I was super excited to try making bread with simple, basic, quality ingredients.  Part of the reason that I’ve become obsessed with baking my own bread is that I’m able to control what goes into it. (The other part is that it just tastes better than mass-produced, store-bought bread.)

I cannot say enough good things about this book.  The author, Ken Forkish, treats bread baking like a cross between a religion and a science project.  The passion he has for good ingredients and developing flavors in the bread is awesome.  He talks about knowing where our food comes from, and taking the time to make our food the best it can be.

I’ve tried a couple of his recipes since getting the book, and it is some of the best bread I have ever eaten.  Certainly, it’s the best bread I’ve ever cooked!  Now, the recipes look complex at first, but really it’s not.  However, it does take time and attention.  Friday night I started the Overnight White Bread (you mix the dough and let it proof overnight, than the next morning, shape the loaves, proof them again and bake – in a dutch oven!).

The bread comes out of the oven in beautiful round loaves, full of nooks and crannies with a dark, crisp crust.  Fabulous!

011913103055

This time Elwood was hanging out in the kitchen with me.

4 Qt Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven.  Perfect for baking bread - who knew?

4 Qt Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Perfect for baking bread – who knew?

A trick from the book - mix and proof the dough in a 12 Qt container.  Really cuts down on the messy countertops!

A trick from the book – mix and proof the dough in a 12 Qt container. Really cuts down on the messy countertops!

After the dough proofs the first time, you seperate it into two loaves and shape them.  These baskets are the perfect size to create loaves for the dutch oven, and look pretty.

After the dough proofs the first time, you seperate it into two loaves and shape them. These baskets are the perfect size to create loaves for the dutch oven, and look pretty.

Before baking...

Before baking…

After baking!

After baking! (My “jug of wine” is in the background.)

Dinner tonight - I toasted the bread and topped it with brie and proschiutto, with tomatoes on the side.  Yummy!!!

Dinner tonight – I toasted the bread and topped it with brie and prosciutto, with tomatoes on the side. Yummy!!!

Advertisements

Bakin’ Bread

Hi, all!  It’s so good to be home again!  For the last week (Thursday to Thursday), I’ve been down in Orlando for work.  It was a really busy week, but it was a lot of fun.  I missed my cats, my boyfriend and my family – but I also realized that I missed cooking!

Since I didn’t have to work today (yippee for a long weekend!), I decided I wanted to cook something.  As it turns out, today was kind of a dreary day – gray skies, random rain, that kind of thing.  And I also had to face my least favorite part of coming home after a trip – unpacking and laundry!

So I figured that the logical thing to do would be to bake some bread, right?  Laundry gets done in stages – you put it in the washer, you wait.  You put it in the dryer, you wait.  Bread gets done in stages too – you make the dough, you let it rise.  You punch it down, you let it rise.  You put it in the oven, you wait.

The bonus with bread it that at the end, you get a yummy warm slice with butter.  Laundry doesn’t have that kind of payoff!

I think I’ve said this before, but I’ve been searching for great bread recipes.  I found an awesome recipe for Carmelized Onion and Asigo Bread, but that’s awfully fancy for everyday.  Well, now I’ve found the perfect recipe for Italian bread!  (I sort of took two different recipes that I found online and used bits of each to make this recipe.)

It’s been a good day – I have an empty suitcase, clean clothes, my house smells like baking bread, I get to pick up my CSA box in about 20 minutes (yippee!!) and after that, I get to have dinner with mom, dad, and my sister!  Now, obviously, the bread isn’t the only reason it was a good day, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Perfect Italian Bread

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place the water and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer and allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes. Using a dough hook attachment, add the flour and sugar to the water and mix on low speed until a dough starts to form. Drizzle the oil and salt into the dough and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and spray the dough with a thin coating of cooking spray. Cover with a damp towel and set aside to proof in a warm, draft-free place for about an hour or until doubled in size. Remove the towel, punch down and flatten the rounded dough with the heel of your hand. Roll the dough up tightly, sealing the seam well after each roll. The dough should be elongated and oval-shaped, with rounded ends.

Preheat the oven lined with a pizza stone to 425 degrees F.

Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper.   Allow the dough to proof, loosely covered with a damp towel, for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Brush the dough with the egg white. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, score the top of the dough.

Spray the dough generously with water from a water bottle and place in the oven on the baking stone. (You can use the parchment paper and just set the loaf and parchment paper right on the pizza stone.)  Immediately close the oven and bake for 3 minutes. Open the oven door and spray the dough again with the water bottle. Close the oven door and bake for an additional 3 minutes before spraying the dough for a third time (the spraying of the dough will ensure a crisp golden brown crust). Bake the dough for 25-30 minutes, or until a hollow thud is heard when the bread is whacked with the bowl of a wooden spoon. Allow the bread to cool slightly before serving.

Egg Salad on Toast

Nothing too special about egg salad on toast, but it is the kind of food that can be counted upon if it’s made well. My ingredients were local (and personal), so it tasted good and also felt good to make, which is what I actually, very much needed. And for those reasons, it might have been the best thing I’ve eaten all summer. I’m not sure anyone needs a recipe for egg salad, but this is what to do just in case:

Just barely hard boil four free-range eggs from Black Dog Acres, then peel and chop.

Mix with one rib of celery (diced), one small jalapeno pepper (seeded and diced) and one quarter of a small red onion (shaved). All from farmer Bernie.

Stir in one or two generous tablespoons of  mayonnaise (just make your own like this or this with more of the trustworthy eggs). Add dashes of kosher salt, black pepper, and good amazing paprika (but only if you are lucky enough to have a friend who will wait patiently while you smell every paprika twice before you find the perfect one).

Pile half of the salad on a thick slice of crunchy toast (save the other half for your better half). Add chopped herbs from my garden, a sliced tomato from my mother’s. Add a little more Spanish paprika (in honor of the Spaniard who baked the bread).