Sunday, March 24, 2013

French Bread ...and Preparing for the Storm



This weekened there were rumblings of another winter storm.  Who could believe it though?  It's spring break around here and that just couldn't be true!  It was forecast for Saturday evening and Sunday. 

Saturday, it was rainy and a perfect day for making a fire and baking some bread.  Naw.. that snow wasn't coming..

I found two new blogs that I absolutely love!  One is called Hickery Holler Farm.  I love this blog!  You can learn about everything from gardening..to canning...to homemade bread.  This blog is a complete wealth of information for people like me.  I always love her posts!  I always especially love posts about homemade bread,  not just the kind that you eat as a treat but the bread that people make to eat every day.  I also loved that this blogger bakes all of her own bread.  She has a unique way of using her freezer, canning, dehydrating, and cooking ahead to make most of their meals from stuff she has right there on the farm.  The post that caught my eye yesterday was that she makes french bread, slices it, and puts those slices in the freezer for making garlic toast rounds for serving with soups, spaghetti, or other pasta dishes. 

We are all about garlic bread here at my house.  I tend to use up all form of hotdog and  hamburger buns for garlic toasts but I had never thought of intentionally freezing homemade french bread slices for this purpose.  I had to try it!

This french bread recipe made two huge loaves.  I think the Canned Quilter (at Hickery Holler Farm) makes one small sandwich loaf and two loaves of french bread all from this recipe.  The recipe comes originally from another terrific blog.  It's called Chickens in the Road and I expect to spend lots of time exploring this well written, entertaining, and super informative blog!  There's just tons on there.  The bread recipe is called "Grandmother Bread" and you can read all about why this heirloom recipe is called Grandmother's Bread here.  What a heartwarming story!  It will make all of us want to start making homemade bread so that we can have a "keeper of the bread" in our own families.

This bread uses super frugal and simple ingredients, flour, water, salt, yeast & sugar.  You can't get much more frugal than that.  The loaf if soft and delicious!  It's a winner in my book!

Here's how I made "Grandmother Bread" as French Bread AT HOME MY WAY:

French Bread
 
 
Two-loaf standard recipe (there is a one-loaf recipe here)

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:

Measure 3 cups warm/hot water (hot but not hurt like hot bath water), add yeast and sugar.  Let "proof" (let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy).

Dump proofed yeast/water/sugar in a large bowl.  Add 2 cups of flour.  Stir til mostly smooth.  Sprinkle with the salt.  Add 2 more cups of flour and stir.  Add remaining 3 cups of flour and stir as much as you can to blend (I use a wooden spoon).  At this point, LIGHTLY flour your hands and start bringing all of this dough together, forming into a ball, folding the dough over on itself.  (Good idea to take your rings off at this point.)  You need to knead for 6 minutes (I set a timer.)  I found this dough very sticky but using lots of flour produced a heavy, dense loaf, so I tried to knead with the backs of my fingers cupped together to push and fold the dough, kneading.  I kept lightly flouring my hands and eventually picked the dough ball up and used my palms to push the dough and fold it until it became springy (a fingertip pushed in the loaf leaves a mark but quickly fills itself back in).

Place dough in oiled bowl to rise turning once to moisten the dough ball.  Place in non-drafty place to rise.  (I use my microwave.)

Once the dough had risen double in size (approximately 1 hour at least), divide the dough in half and roll to 1/2 inch or so.  Then roll the dough up like for cinnamon rolls, and place both loaves on a sprayed cookie sheet.  I rolled a long cylinder of foil to place between the loaves so that they didn't spread into one another and become one huge loaf.  (Make sure to spray the foil roll heavily).

Put the loaves in a non-drafty place to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how warm your kitchen is.

Slice the loaves quickly with 1/4 inch cuts (this allows expansion of the loaves during baking). 

Brush egg wash on the loaves: 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water - mixed.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until brown.  (I would remove the foil roll between the loaves after a crust forms on the loaves because it reflected heat causing those sections of the loaves not to brown as well.)




Excellent tasting bread with great crumb and chewy texture!  It's perfect french bread and should also make perfect sandwich bread!

My daughter and I had lots of laughs sewing!  I'll post about that project this week.  Here's what we made:

 
 
 
 
 
We worked on our projects until late Saturday night, roasted some hot dogs over the fire, admired the bread (not sure why we didn't eat any yesterday), and still didn't think this storm was really coming!
 
This morning?  It's here!  Yep, by 9:30 AM I had 7.5 inches of snow outside!  Good grief! And it's still coming down!
 

 

 





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