Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Been Busy!

WOW it feels like the Christmas season hustle and bustle has hit with a vengeance. The stores went from Thanksgiving decor to Christmas everything within hours. The amount of people on the road and in the stores seems to have tripled over night. I was SO behind on my shopping, normally I finish up on Black Friday. This year, not so much. I felt hurried and rushed so I worked on my spreadsheet of gift buying only to discover I wasn't the only nerd who did this and my sister in law did as well. I've had a list plugged into my computer for years and it always worked out well. My sister in law sent me hers to glean ideas and I liked her format a bit better so I tweaked it to take the things I liked on mine and combined them. Thanks Rachel! Now I'm nearly done shopping, I'm finishing a few projects up today and tomorrow and then we're HOME FREE! I love being DONE so I can focus on doing things with friends, the kids, and just focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.

In that effort to be less busy and spend more time attending to the needs of my family, friends that are struggling so badly, and just being open to whatever the Lord has for us I've decided I need to cook more at home. I used to be the best little Susie Homemaker when we were early married, I always made cinnamon rolls, homemade bread, hot meals every night at 6, etc etc. Over the years, several kids later I've slacked. I've been working on getting back to my roots of cooking. My husband loves it when I cook, I really do enjoy cooking, we enjoy cooking together and I want my daughters to know how to cook for their families. It was one of those things I just needed to sit down and plan out a little better so I could be more effective in this area.

So, why all this? Oh just to tell you about the BEST bread recipe EVER! Seriously.

Do you want great bread like this? People in awe that YOU made this?
I was a skeptic. I didn't see how you could possibly make artisan bread like the store. Besides, I haven't made bread in YEARS. I made bread yesterday. You can too. Its SO SO easy. Its almost embarrassingly easy. I made dinner for some friends last night and included this loaf. They were in shock. It was SO good. My husband was impressed. My kids were impressed. Try it. You'll love it. I'm making another batch today (well starting it) and I'm going to add some fresh herbs from my back yard in one loaf and some fresh roasted garlic to the other loaf, then because I'm HOOKED on this recipe I'll make two plain loaves to bake later. So you want to try it too? SURE! Let me help with that. A big THANK YOU to my sister in law Rachel for the recipe. YUMMY! Try it and let me know what you think. :)

(original recipe came from The Oregonian FoodDay, 3/13/07)

* 3 ¼ c. flour
* 2 t. salt
* ¼ t. instant or rapid-rise yeast

* 1 ½ c. lukewarm water
* Little bit of cornmeal

Bread pan requirements: Use a three to six quart covered casserole dish, round or oblong. A heavy dish works best (cast iron, Corningware (French White 4 qt. oval is what I use), etc. Probably not glass).

1. Combine first three ingredients in a large bowl and then add water and stir well.
Dough will be wet and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm location (like 70 degrees-ish) for 12 to 18 hours. You’ll know dough is ready because it will bubble on top.

2. Dump dough onto a floured surface and fold a couple of times until it's in a ball. You don't want to handle it too much. Cover again with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

3. Shape into a ball (or oblong roll) and pinch seam. Don’t handle dough too much. Flour a cotton dishcloth (not terrycloth) and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place dough on cornmeal seam-side down and sprinkle top with cornmeal. Cover with cotton cloth and let rise 2 to 3 hours.

4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While oven is heating, put pan (without lid) in oven and let both pan and oven heat up for 30 minutes or so. Remove pan (it’s HOT so be careful), pick up cloth, and roll off cloth into pan seam-side up (it kind of goes “ker-plop”). If it’s uneven, just shake pan a bit and it will settle in. Dough will be wet. Put lid on pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more until bread is golden brown.

Take bread out of pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Yum!
For variations, add whatever spices or things you want. If it doesn’t work, just email me and we’ll figure it out.

If you want a faster version, you can do two teaspoons of yeast and let it rise for two to five hours instead of overnight. The interior crumb of the bread is a little bit different if you do it that way. I turn mine out and let it rest on a silicone mat because it's much easier to clean up.

For rising, I bought a couple of oblong wicker type baskets from World Market. I just put a cotton cloth in there and flour and cornmeal the cloth real well before putting the dough in there to rise. That keeps it out of my way and out of temptation for small fingered people. After it's done rising, I just flip in into the heated pan to cook.


Anonymous said...

I don't have a pan to make this with, but I am asking for a covered casserole dish for Christmas, so maybe then....looks yummy!

Barbara said...

I am going to make this. Then cover it with butter and eat the whole thing. By myself. OK, maybe I'll share a little with the kiddos.