Monday, March 28, 2011

Old Lady Bread! (way old school)

I watched a youtube video a while back of an old lady making bread. She made a lot of loaves at one time. I figured I could scale it down and make one loaf at a time. I tried a number of ways, techniques and measurements then it occurred to me; the old lady didn't measure. I need to trust my sense of feel and just do it. I think I succeeded rather brilliantly so I share this with you, such as it is.

I grabbed my giant tin bowl, old lady bread should, realistically, be happier on an old bowl. I dumped in 2 cups of flour (approximately!) 1 mini palmful each of salt, sugar and yeast. I am guessing 1 tsp of each.

I mixed it around with my fingers. I filled an old jam jar (purely for the old lady bread affect, I could have used a measuring cup but really, what fun would THAT have been?) with warm water from the tap and started pouring it in until it came together as a really shaggy dough. I turned it onto my board and kneaded about 3 minutes dusting LIGHTLY with flour if it tried to stick. I made it a pretty soft dough, just at the edge of sticking.

I covered it with a damp cloth and left it on the counter, it doubled in about 70 minutes. I didn't punch it down, I gently coaxed it out of the bowl and rolled it back and forth GENTLY until it looked like a log, I cut a couple of slits and lifted it into a vessel in which to cook it. I've done it on a sheetpan (long wide loaf) in an 8x8 square pan (weird shape but yummy) and in a regular loaf pan (slightly taller, more bread v crust ratio). Pick your vessel! I left it to rise, covered about 45 minutes then into a 350 oven until it was "rosy". 40-45 minutes maybe? Remember old ladies not only don't measure, they don't time.

It's a hearty, rustic loaf that takes nothing to make if you're home anyway and you can have it sliced thick with butter and cheese (and a lovely Chilean Merlot) for lunch when your day has gone to hell in a handbasket anyway.

I just gave you the recipe, this is one of those "all pics and no substance" posts. Here's the play by play shots: *remember, make it and let me know how it went!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, tip it in the bowl:

Mix it around and start adding some of the warm water from the jam jar!

I sort of use my fingers like a whisk and add the water down my palm and sweep around from the outside of the bowl in then squish it. It becomes a shaggy dough then a couple of squishes later, it clears the side of the bowl and almost looks like dough!

I knead it a couple of times in the bowl then transfer it to the board and knead with a very light dusting of flour until it looks lovely, about 3-5 minutes?

It's still sort of a blob but only a few more minutes and it'll be dough! These are only a few minutes of kneading apart, the second ball is much smoother and softer. Plunk it back in the bowl, I don't worry about greasing or buttering, this is old school bread, remember?

Ok, my favorite Ikea .49 tea towel is dampened and put over the bowl. I think I'll go do a load of laundry while it rises.

I don't punch it down, I sort of release it from the bottom and roll it out of the bowl. I rolled it back and forth a few times until it looked like a loaf and was long enough to go corner to corner on my sheet pan.

This is the long loaf on a 1/4 sheetpan, lightly sprayed because everything sticks to it *as is evident by the ghost cookie outlines! Throw a towel over it and leave it about 45, until it WHOA did it EVER double!

This loaf (above) was very wide and very short, good for angle slicing, toasting and smothering in fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil.

This loaf (below) is more traditional and good for, um, everything else.

Today's loaf (below) in the loaf pan I hate but it came out beautifully.

Cut thickly, slathered with butter and some good, sharp, English Cheddar. Sure, this may be why I'll never be a size 2 (or 12) but hey, I am happy at lunchtime on a really crappy day. :)

Grab an old tin bowl and a few ingredients, work with your hands and don't measure. You'll be delighted at lunchtime with your creation, it means more doing it this way somehow.


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