Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Homemade Bread

Making bread with my friend Mary. If I look taller than usual it's because I'm standing on a stool. Kneading is easier when you are well above the dough. Thank you Cheryl for taking the picture!
I was so happy to see my friend Mary already at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral when I arrived extra early this morning set to make homemade French bread for the Wednesday Community Meal.

Making homemade bread is so much easier when you have someone to help you scoop and add flour as you get your hands sticky and gooey from mixing and kneading the dough.

Mary and I went through 50 pounds of flour today to make 45 loaves of bread and the guests really loved it. I mean who doesn't like warm homemade bread?

It is a lot of work though, and at one point today after shaping my umpteenth loaf, I asked my friends to tell me "no" the next time I said I was going to make bread from scratch for the meal.

But now that the bread has been baked and served, I take my impulsive statement back. Homemade bread is such a special treat for our guests that I truly want to make it again for them, just maybe not next week.

Oh, and I definitely will let Mary know when that will be because I don't even want to think of taking on the task without her help. She is a wonderful teammate.

We served 293 meals today.

Today's meal of spaghetti and meatballs and a thick slice of warm bread.
If you want to make a single batch of French bread, here is the recipe:

French Bread
(makes 4 loaves)
2 packages yeast
2/3 cup tepid water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
7 cups bread flour (additional may be needed)
2 tablespoons rye or whole wheat flour
4 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups cold water
(cornmeal for sprinkling on sheet pan or parchment paper)

Combine yeast, sugar and tepid water. Let set for 5 minutes.

Combine the remaining ingredients then add yeast mixture. Knead.

Let rise 40 to 60 minutes in a clean, dry bowl. Then deflate and punch into a 14-inch rectangle and fold into thirds.

Return dough to bowl and let rise 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Make loaves and let rise another  1 1/2 hours.

Place loaves on baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or lined with parchment paper, slash and place in a preheated 450 degree oven tossed with 1/4 cup of water. Bake 20 minutes and then bake an additional 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

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