Everyday Mom's Meals: Weekend Company {Guest Blogger Carol}

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekend Company {Guest Blogger Carol}

Welcome to the weekend everyone! I hope your week went by smoothly and you are ready for some fun, relaxation and another yummy recipe from an EMM foodie friend! Grab a mimosa (it is the weekend after all) and please join me in welcoming Carol~

Is there a particular food smell that magically transports you across time and space? For me it’s the smell of homemade bread baking.  It smells like home, like the kitchens where I spend so many hours learning how to cook and bake with my mother and grandmother.  It’s the smell of a treat soon to be enjoyed – the warm crusty heel of the bread, fresh from the oven, slathered with sweet butter and my grandmothers homemade strawberry preserves.

Bread was always so much more than just flour, yeast, sugar and salt.  It was comfort, it was sustenance on a level beyond filling physical hunger; it was ritual, tradition, love.

With a full time job and a million day to day responsibilities I stopped making homemade bread  decades ago. I didn’t do it on purpose, it just happened.

And then I got a Deep Covered Baker – a stoneware Dutch oven of sorts – a simple, magical piece of cookware that transported me 3000 miles and 40 years back to my grandmother’s kitchen. I dug out my grandmother’s recipe binder and there in her faded precise cursive was her Cuban bread recipe.

It didn’t take long to modify the recipe for the Deep Covered Baker and when the Round Covered Baker was introduced this spring I modified in once again to create the Easy Artisan Bread recipe I’m thrilled to share with you today.  If you don’t have a covered stoneware baker a similar heavy covered roaster or baker will do.

Easy Artisan Bread:
The quickest yeast bread you'll ever make. Warm, fresh, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, delicious home made bread in just over an hour and for under a $1.  This recipe makes a 6.5-6.75 inch diameter loaf that's perfect for sandwiches and bread bowls!  
2.5-3 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for .5 or 1 cups)
1 tablespoons dry yeast (regular, NOT rapid rise, yeast)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 cups hot water (120° to 130°) Note: water temperature is critical to proper yeast activation

1. Grease the Round Covered Baker and the bowl that you'll let the bread rise in. Set aside. 
2. Combine 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the hot water and beat three minutes with a mixer (or 70 stokes by hand).  Add the remaining flour (I've never needed to add more than 1/2 cup) until the dough is no longer sticky.  Knead* the dough for 3-4 minutes on a floured surface, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. 
3. Place the dough in the greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise 15 minutes.  Remove dough to floured surface, punch or fold down** (3 minutes should do it) and shape into a loaf.
4.  Place the dough in Round Covered Baker.  Cut 2-3 slits about 1/2 inch deep along the top of the loaf and 2-3 slits at a 90% angle to the first slits.  It will look a bit like a number sign (#) when you're done.
5. Put the lid on the baker and place in a COLD oven. Turn oven to 400° and bake for 47 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover, gasp in amazement, remove loaf from baker to cool on a rack.
Cook's Tip: to slice bread rest it on it's side and cut with a serrated bread knife.  By cutting from the side you avoid crushing the flaky top crust. 
Double this recipe for the Deep Covered Baker and increase your mixing time to 100 strokes if mixing by hand and increase kneading time to 5 minutes, and cooking time to 50 minutes. 
Need a little help? These videos help illustrate kneading and punching down the bread. Note that videos are referenced to illustrate techniques only, they are NOT part of the recipe.
** Punching down bread: punching or folding down bread is an important technique for I prefer the gentler folding and rolling down process, but either will do.  http://youtu.be/tsCqZMCLqnU

About me: 
A New Englander by birth and upbringing, I fled the cold weather and moved to Southern California 20+ years ago. I have a crazy high stress full time day job and am a Pampered Chef Consultant in my spare time. It’s fun, good for my sanity and allows me to generate some additional income every month that I can contribute in support of various charities that are near and dear to my heart.  I love helping others near and far!
I hope you’ll drop by and visit me at www.facebook.com/PamperedChefConsultantCarolsCorner
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Terra said...

I agree, there is nothing better than the smell of fresh homemade bread! I love the recipe, it sounds, and looks delicious:-) Take care, Terra

C Hummer said...

How did you grease your round baker! I have a brand new one that has never been out of the box so I am not sure how to use it. Thanks.