Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TWD-Country Bread

Yay, a bread recipe!  I love bread.  And I love the idea of making bread.  I will probably always say this when starting a bread recipe. (You've been warned.)  I want to be a bread maker.  Sometimes I do feel like a bread maker (at least when the bread I'm making turns out).  There is nothing better than a warm slice of freshly baked bread, slathered with butter.  I don't think there is anything more satisfying than bread.  I will say, bread is my most basic comfort food.  It is something I search out in our city (Ottawa) and where ever we go.  As I've mentioned numerous times, my all time favourite bread (in Ottawa) is from True Loaf.  I know I'll never master the art of bread making (at least at the level of a true baker) and I'm okay with that, because I have found places that make incredibly good bread.

Okay Julia, let's get baking.

The first thing that needs to be made, is a sponge.

Not this sponge.

That's right ladies, I do live in a pineapple.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think of Burt Reynolds looking at Spongebob laying like this?  Come on!  Do you think they have Cosmo (magazine) under the sea. (Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about.)
So I'm making a sponge for the bread.  The sponge consists of water, yeast and flour. (Three flours to be exact; bread flour, whole wheat and rye.)

Ingredients for the sponge, are the same as the ingredients for the bread.  But after I mix these ingredients together for the sponge, I leave it to sit at room temperature for 6-8 hours.  (Definitely not a 'quick' bread.)

 After the yeast got all nice and creamy in the water (no Spongebob involved), it was time to mix the flours into the mixture.

Pretty simple process for the sponge.

Now it needs to sit for 6-8 hours at room temperature.  Or it can be put in the fridge overnight.  I am going to let it sit for 6 hours at room temperature and then I will probably put it in the fridge until tomorrow. (Otherwise I'll be up until 3am and this old lady needs to be in bed before 10pm.)

This is what it looks like two hours in.  (The bread making magic has begun.)

Now that the sponge has been sitting around fermenting overnight, it is ready to be mixed up with the rest of the ingredients. (More water, yeast, flour and some salt.)

I will save you from the floury mess that I made in the kitchen.  (Kitchen tip:  don't dump all the flour into the mixture and then turn on the kitchenaid to medium and then turn your back on it...unless you have  the broom and dust pan handy.)  It was like a silent messy explosion of flour.  Good times.

After ten minutes of mixing with the dough hook, my kitchenaid is still alive (and very hot and bothered).  Glad it survived, as my upper back could not have handled any kneading this week.

 This ball of dough needs to rest for about 2 hours. 

Times up!  Let's take a look.

Whoa!  That is some good rising.

Next, the dough gets put onto a lightly floured surface and flattened.  Then the edges are folded and patted down.  This gets the air out of the bread.

The edges keep getting folded and patted down until it is formed into a ball.

Damn.  I'm thinking I put the dough into the floured cloth the wrong way.  Well, I've got an hour and a half to confirm that....do'eth.

Yep, I should have put the smooth side down, so that it was protected.  And then when I took it out, the bottom would become the top of the bread when I moved it to the pan.  (That may only make sense to me.)
Oh well.  Besides, would it really be a post (of mine) if I didn't in some way not follow the instructions?  Hmm?

Moving on.

I put a few slashes into the top of the dough.  Perhaps a smidge too deep.  (Beware of the Slasher.)  Perhaps someone needs to stop watching the show Grimm.  Just sayin'.

Oven and pizza stone have been preheated.  Rather than bake it right on the pizza stone, I left it on the baking sheet (that was sprinkled with cornmeal).  I threw a few ice cubes in the oven before I put the bread in the oven.  That may sound like a random thing to do, but honestly it's a bread baking thing.  And the bread will bake for about an hour.

It is smelling rather good in the kitchen.  I sure hope this turns out!

Here it is straight from the oven.  I took its temperature and it measured 200 degrees as suggested in the recipe.  If bread could talk, there would have definitely been a 'hey, where you puttin' that thermometer lady', moment.  (Thankfully bread cannot talk.)

Well, I think the bread looks fabulous.  It feels like it is going to be super crusty. (Not in a salty old sailor sort of way.)  I see many, many crumbs (in my future) on the floor, after this bread is cut.  But that step needs to wait until it is completely cooled.  (Cookbook says so, and I'm all about following instructions...Mmm Hmm...ask anyone who doesn't know me and/or has never read my blog, they'll agree.)

This bread is good.  It is a true country loaf, with a rustic feel.  The outside is crusty and chewy while the inside has a tender crumb.  This is a bread you want to cut into thick slices and eat alongside a big bowl of soup.  (Dipping the crust into the hot soup.)  And that is exactly what we did for dinner.  Bowls of tomato soup with thick slices of this beautiful bread (and some sharp cheddar).  Perfection.
I have to admit, this bread makes me a little melancholy as it reminds me of the loaves of bread my mom would buy.  She loved the crusty country loaves.  And I know she would have loved this one too.(And not just because I made it!)


  1. Your bread look gorgeous!!!
    I totally agree, it's a good rustic bread, which may be use in different ways!!!
    A nice fresh slice.....so yummy!!!!

  2. Looks delicious! I have that cookbook, and haven't used it in ages. Which bread is this? I have been using the artisian bread in 5 min as I found it easy. I will give this a try. I think the hardest part is NOT eating it straight from the oven!

    1. This is on page 136 of the book (Country Bread). Another good one is the Challah. Oh, and the Finnish Pulla (highly recommend that one). And the Rustic Potato Loaves (those were awesome). :)

  3. Great looking bread. Loved reading your post. Ya I have the same problem with following instructions. Put the bread smooth side down too. Luckily realised that right away and rectified it.

  4. Love the look of the bread! Sounds so good with tomato soup...

  5. Your SpongeBob reference made me smile :-)

  6. Your deep slashes made a nice looking loaf!

  7. Great looking loaf of bread! I made the same mistake with the flour…it was all over everything!

  8. your loaf came out perfectly! wish i had made the cross hatch design rather than just slashes.

  9. Yeah, the waiting for it to cool was sooo hard. LOVE bread fresh out of the oven. SLATHERED is the only way. Yours looks just perfect. You CAN use a large round basket for a banneton. Just flour it very well.

  10. Your loaf looks great! I believe Burt, was laying the opposite direction... If my memory serves me, my mother had that poster! ;)

  11. What a lovely post you've written! Spongebob made me giggle! ihihih!!
    Your loaf is gorgeous! and the step by step process nice and easy to follow.

  12. Great step by step pictures! Such a beautiful loaf. And now I'll be thinking of Burt Reynolds all night ;)

  13. I'm with you on there being nothing better than freshly baked bread. Your bread looks beautiful and yummy.

  14. Every time one of my breads turns out well I think I should be a bread baker. Then my next loaf fails completely and I realize I probably shouldn't quit my day job :-) I love baking bread at home, but it's also fun to find great bakeries.

    1. Yes, that's my feeling too....day job is safe...until that next perfect loaf! :o)

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