August 12, 2008

Beautiful bread

One of the best things happened to me when I moved to Virginia last year. We moved into a great house next to a wonderful couple- Bruce and Wendy.  The moment we arrive, Wendy sends Bruce around with a big bag of home grown tomatoes welcoming us to the neighbourhood- our friendship blossomed from there. 
Max and Alex provided plenty of entertainment for them to sit and ponder, while I popped across the fence on more than one occasion to help Wendy weed her beautiful English garden and catch up on the in's and outs of Lexington. 
Wendy is a fantastic baker and always has some delicious cake/slice on the go for when her grown kids come home from college- however Max and Alex assumed the 'snacks'  as they like to call them were for them alone! Whenever I couldn't find them, they were usually drinking Wendy out of milk and eating whatever she had to offer. Being the good English lady she was, Wendy was an advocate of fresh bread with lashings of butter and jam- one of the boys favorite afternoon snacks and still is. However Wendy use to make her own bread and once you tasted it, you couldn't go back to eating toast with 'cotton candy' bread (meaning the texture dissolves in your mouth). Ever since I made my first batch a few months ago my whole family has been addicted and I haven't stopped. It makes a lot so I store one loaf in the freezer and then pull it out when needed. It usually lasts two weeks and really is fantastic toasting bread. When it is fresh out of the oven, you cannot resist spreading it with what ever you have on hand- the last batch got delicious golden syrup. Don't let the three day recipe scare you off- it is very easy to follow and the results are well worth the input.
I have taken images of what the bread looks like after each day- just to keep you on track- Good Luck!

Wendy's Delicious Bread

Day 1 (top picture)
2 cups very warm, hot water
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large stainless steel bowl, add water and sprinkle with yeast. Stir briefly with a wooden spoon then add flour- mix well then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to prove over night.

Day 2 (second picture)
2 Tbsp salt
1 cup tepid water
2 cups whole wheat flour

Sprinkle salt over your flour/yeast mixture. 
Add water and flour, mix well with your hand to combine.
Cover again and return to a cool place to rise overnight. 
(see so far these steps shouldn't take but 5 minutes of your day!)

Day 3 (third, forth and fifth photos)
1 & 1/2 cups tepid water
7-8 cups all-purpose flour

Add water and about 7 cups of flour (reserve one cup for kneading).
Kneading in the bowl until it combines into a sticky ball.
Sprinkle a little flour over a wooden pastry board or bench and turn out the dough.
Knead thoroughly for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary until smooth and elastic.
Rinse mixing bowl, dry and dust with flour then place kneaded dough back in and cover with plastic wrap. Prove at room temperature until it is 2 & 1/2 times it's size. This usually takes me two hours if I leave it on my stove top.
Once risen, punch down dough (for those of you who don't understand- give it a good punch in the middle to push out the air) and knead just to knock out air holes.
Form 2-3 log shapes, place on a large cookie tray with cooking oil on the bottom of the tray and place logs in a warm place to prove- approx 30 minutes.
(I usually put them back on my stove top with it turned on to 500 seeing as you have to preheat oven anyway).
Once oven is preheated to 500- slash the tops of the bread with a sharp knife and bake for 15 minutes, turn down to 350 for the remaining 25 minutes of cooking.
Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Day 3 is a little time consuming so I try to make sure it lands on a Saturday, so I can have the bread prove while I get the house straightened out and washing done. Give it a go, you'll be really happy you did and if you have teenagers, this will surly fill them up for at least 10 minutes!

Thanks Wendy!


Roisin said...

I simply cannot wait to try this one Camilla. Just one question, when you freeze your bread what do you put it in? A ziplock bag? What's best?

Camilla Baker said...

I wrap it in a plastic shopping bag and make sure it is well covered- ziplock bags are to small.