Written by Linda Gauthier and Recipe from Loretta Lablanc
I recently heard from my cousin Loretta, they have 2 feet of snow at the ranch right now, and she is hoping for an early spring.
I stand here in my Victoria kitchen, wondering what it would feel like to have snow on the ground, looking across at the neighbor's yard and spot Snow Drops coming up.
I sometimes feel that I'd like to be living where they get snow, but then again, right now I am planning what plants I will be able to set out in the garden, which leads me to decide that I think I'd just as soon live vicariously through my daughter and cousin when it comes to snow. It is beautiful when the world is blanketed in a snowy layer, and the boughs of the trees reach down with their heavy winter cover, and everything is sparkling and clean, but then I think about driving in it and give my head a shake, I live in Victoria where people in general are hopeless in the snow.
Loretta sent me a recipe for one of her favorite breads, "Country Rustic Bread", it looks awesome! I can't wait to try it, in fact I think I will try it out this afternoon. She loves the smell and satisfaction of baking fresh homemade bread as I do. Creating a beautiful loaf of bread is comforting and very therapeutic. I started baking bread when I was around eleven or twelve, so for me it identifies with the immense pleasure of putting such simple ingredients together and ending up with such a delicious, soul satisfying product. The smell of fresh baked bread, the taste of warm melting butter is such a basic pleasure that warms your soul and in many cases takes us back to being a child again when things were simple and easy.
Here is my Basic White Bread Recipe I have used for so many years. I have no idea where it came from.
Makes 4 loaves
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
2 cups hot water
3 tbsp sugar
3 tsp lard
2c cold water
11 c all purpose flour
Dissolve 1 tsp sugar in the lukewarm water, add the yeast.
Let stand 10 min
Dissolve 3tbsp sugar, salt and lard in the 2 cups of hot water
Add the cold water until the mixture is lukewarm
Stir in the dissolved yeast and 7 cups of the flour
Let stand for 15 minutes
Add 4 more cups of flour and work until a soft dough, not sticky
Don't be afraid to knead well
Let it stand in a warm place covered,
In the bowl for 11/2 hours or until double in size
Work dough down
Let stand one hour
Divide into 4 loaves, place in well buttered pans
Let stand until risen and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until brown and sound hollow when you tap it.
As I said, this is my basic bread recipe and I also use it for Cinnamon Buns.
For 3 loaves of bread and 1 pan of cinnamon buns, take 1 of the loaves roll out then spread the filling over the bread dough. I use
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
butter a 9" square baking pan
Drizzle maple sugar syrup over bottom of 9" square pan
Mix cinnamon, brown sugar, and melted butter together, sprinkle over bread dough, leaving 1" uncovered on long edge of bread dough.
Roll from the far edge towards the edge with the 1" edge
Slice and place in baking dish
Let rise again
Bake in preheated oven of 375 for approximately 30 min
Loretta's recipe for Artisan Bread, try it, it sounds yummy.
County Style Rustic Bread
I love any kind of bread. I love baking bread. It is so basic, with just a few ingredients magic happens. Nothing compares to the smell of just baked bread. For years, I have been baking Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes By Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. More recently I tried Jim Lahey’s rustic bread recipes. Both are no knead and require a long rise, up to 18 hrs. I love both of these methods and will continue to make them but as usual I just had to see what would happen if I wanted bread now, not tomorrow. This bread. Crusty outside, chewy inside, home baked bread.
You will require a heavy cast iron dutch oven
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
3 ½ c. unbleached flour
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sugar
1 1/3 c. warm water
Add all dry ingredients in mixer with dough hook. Stir in water and continue mixing until a dough ball forms, pulling away from side of bowl and sticking to itself. Knead the dough in mixer for 3-4 minutes. Then place the dough ball in a large bowl that has been lightly coated with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 hr (until doubled in size). Sprinkle a large piece of parchment paper with flour. Using well floured hands, dump out dough and shape and tuck into a rough ball. You can also fold it over a couple times on a well-floured surface. It doesn’t have to be perfect; just keep tucking the dough underneath until you have a semi-smooth dough ball and place in middle of parchment paper. Cover with towel. Put your cast iron pot with lid on in oven @ 425f for 20 min. Slash the top of your bread when ready to bake. Don’t be wimpy. Make several deep slashes any design. Be very careful and remove HOT POT. Place parchment and dough in pot, replace lid and into the oven for 30 min. Remove lid and continue to bake 10 more min. Please let bread cool before cutting. Then go find the butter.
I will be talking to you again in the next couple of days. Enjoy the small things in life and laugh, laugh all the time. It is the best medicine.