Monday, October 28, 2013

"My Life As A Loaf" - Basic French Loaf, aka "Stand-By Bread"

My daughter used this as the title to her senior paper in college. That tells you how much baking , particularly bread-baking ,went on (and continues to go on ) in our home. I was a little worried that perhaps she was expressing her inner hostility and resentment to taking second place to bread during her childhood …….. Boy, was I relieved to find that wasn’t the case!! We might have needed lots of counseling! Instead, I found as I read the paper, she fondly reminisced about being brought up in a home where there were home-cooked meals (that usually included fresh bread), prayers, great conversation, an abundance of visitors and lots and lots of love - all served at our dinner table. Our three kids used to lament about not having peanut butter sandwiches that were made on Wonder Bread…..What a tragedy! No tasty preservatives, no delicious chemicals, no yummy additives for their little bodies! And, in spite of what they might remember, there were times when I just gave in…..and they experienced the joy of soft, white store-bought bread.

Now the tables are turned…..they are adults, with families of their own. And guess what they are putting on their table as often as possible – homemade bread!!! – along with servings of prayer, good conversation, good company and lots and lots of love!

Here’s the VERY basic recipe for our family’s “stand-by” bread. So simple, yet so very, very tasty! This is the recipe that’s on the EZ DOH bucket, and that can be used for loaves, rolls, sweet rolls, pizza, etc!!

Stand-By Bread
1 Tablespoon/1 packet Red Star Platinum yeast 
1 ¼ Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt 
1 Tablespoon oil (vegetable or olive) 
3- 3 ¼ Cup unbleached flour (I like sapphire flour – King Arthur’s unbleached is also VERY good!)

Dissolve yeast in water and let rest for 1-2 minutes. If you’re using an EZ DOH or stand mixer, add the remaining ingredients (start with only 3 cups of flour – add slightly more until the dough isn’t sticky but smooth) and mix until the dough is fully kneaded. You may also prepare this recipe by traditionally hand-kneading the bread. Let rise until doubled. Form into 2 smaller French loaves or one large loaf and place on greased cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal (The cornmeal helps give the bread a crunchy base – it’s not necessary, so don’t fret if you don’t have cornmeal in the house J) . Let rise for 10-15 minutes. Score the top of the loaf lightly with a sharp serrated knife. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Let the loaves cool on a rack for 10 minutes before cutting.


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