Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Country Bread

This recipe is called "French Country Bread", but it really reminds me of the local bread here on the island; kind of a chewy, crackly-on-the-outside, sturdy loaf.  Since I'm confused about what country to name it after now, I will just call it "Country Bread".   :) 

When I made this (over a week ago), I made two loaves- one round, free-style one (pictured), baked on a baking sheet, and one baked in a loaf pan.  We ate the round loaf that night, and froze the other loaf.  I thawed the second one for tonight's dinner, and it went very well with Alcatra Beef Stew.  I have to say that I prefer the loaf baked in the loaf pan- it seemed more tender, and looked better too.  It also fits in my toaster better.  :)
One cool thing about this recipe is that it uses a starter- yeast, water, and flour mixed together and left to sit and ferment overnight.  This helps the flavor.... and I'm sure there are other purposes as well, besides being just kind of fun!
My starter, all fermented and ready to go!
We loved this bread with some soup- tonight we had it with the beef stew, but the first night, it was Broccoli-Cheese soup.

Country Bread
from Allrecipes

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt

1.  The night before baking the bread prepare this starter: In a medium sized non-metal mixing bowl dissolve 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast in 1 cup warm water. Add 1 1/2 cup bread flour and mix well. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature.              

2.  The next day: In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the 2 teaspoons yeast in the 2 cups warm water. Add the starter mixture, the whole wheat flour, 3 cups bread flour and the salt; stir until well combined. Add the remaining bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. (I kneaded in my Kitchenaid).  Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.               

3.  Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Place the loaves into the prepared pans. Cover the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (220 degrees C).               

4.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.               
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