here and there

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

French Peasant Bread

 Sacred Heart Church 

For the last three weeks, my husband and I relaxed in Northern Manitoba with temperatures dipping to 25 to 30 degrees then rising to plus 4 to cause driving havoc on the roads, tons of snow and yet the humidity was high even with low temperatures!

We were without internet services as Bell and Manitoba Hydro are in disagreement. But this has been going on for some time.   Every time we come up here, we have less and less service.  This time, only my husband's iPhone could receive calls and texts.  On our second week of holidays, we found out that the library four blocks away had wireless internet so we were able to check our emails and Facebook by walking down to the library with our dog.. I'm sure the locals must have though we were nuts as we would stand outside with our iPhones.

Some of the crazy things you learn is that you can not text with gloves and the battery of the iPhone would crash if you left it in your hand to take pictures.

Kasper getting a better look!

Looking out of the huge living room window in the house, the shadows of the apple tree in the yard are dark and an interesting design

 While in Pittsburgh with my husband who was at an IEEE conference, I won the Three Rivers Cookbook 111 which was a fund raiser to promote the welfare of children and certainly a very successful cookbook.

In this book, I came across the French Peasant  Bread which I made four times. The first time I made it it was using only white flour, it was very tender bread, cake like and certainly reminded me of my Grandmorther's bread as she always buttered the top of her bread.   The crust is glossy yet soft.

The recipe is a no knead bread, but can be done in about 3 hours.  The bread is baked on a baking sheet.  One can purchase a baking sheet at Dollarama for 2 dollars. This recipe is quick and doesn't require a cast iron pot with a lid as does the recipe of Jim Lahey's from Sullivan Street Bakery in New York.  Jim's recipe is also quick but needs to rest overnight! The texture of the two breads is very different even though the amount of ingredients are similar.

Since I use the traditional yeast, this yeast needs to be soften in lukewarm water, so that the yeast dissolves and is not grainy in your bread.  I also let it rise a couple of times, depending on how busy I am!  I tend to time the baking of the bread so that the fresh bread is coming out of the oven when your guests arrive, or better still when your kids come home from school!

The first time I made it, I used all white flour and did add Olive Oil to it.  This bread wowed our guests! 

With the other breads, I used a mixture of flours, along with 1 cup of rolled oats!  However, one should never get to cocky!  I proudly took my freshly baked bread to my aunt who turned 92 this month.  To my horror,  when I tasted the bread, I realized I had forgotten the salt!  On asking my aunt about the bread, she replied " You forgot the salt! it was flat!

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • room temperature butter, about 2 tablespoon
Mix water, salt, sugar and yeast together. I also added Olive oil to this.  Stir in the flour and mix with  a large spoon. The recipe suggested that you turn the dough out into a floured plate or surface, clean the bowl and oil it, then return the dough to the oiled bowl and cover with saran wrap.  I don't know if you have to do this step as Jim Lahey doesn't in his no knead bread recipe.   Let the dough double in size. Prepare your cookie sheet by using parchment paper or oil it.  Sprinkle cornmeal on the sheet.  I used a mixture of rolled oats and poppyseed.  Flour your hands and shape the dough into two oblong loafs.  Do Not Knead the dough.  Let rise for 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 450 - 475.  Butter the loaves before baking.  Bake for 10 minutes, decrease oven temperature to 375 and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes.   Butter the loaves once again when baked and still hot.

I used a mixture of flours to equal 4 cups of flour.  I used one cup of rolled oats, cracked wheat,  whole wheat and white flour. 

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