What do you do in the middle of a blizzard....bake, man, bake bread!
It does several things:
a) calms people down...nothing like the lovely smell of baking bread wafting around the place, to ease the tensions caused by a howling wind and blizzard conditions
b) it means that your little home is warmed by the additional heat coming from the oven (an added bonus)
c) extra food supplies and WHAT yummy food! Sandwiches are suddenly so much better.
d) no need to regret not fighting in the scrum for that last loaf of 'no name' pre-packaged garbage at the store!
e) last, but by NO means least, the joy of sinking your teeth into the ULTIMATE taste - your own bread, straight from the oven!
At times like these, I usual whip up a batch of 'Emergency Bread', just in case we lose power. I showed the resulting photograph to Joy of Fish and she asked, nay, DEMANDED a diary (and recipe). In the interests of keeping JF pleased, AND promoting 'Kosharmony', here it is!
Sharp's Emergency Bread
8 cups GOOD quality bread flour
3 teaspoons dried yeast (I use French SAF, but others will do)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (tastes better)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 cups of luke-warm water (approximate ONLY, each flour will require more/less)
a little oil (to coat mixing bowl)
1 teaspoon sugar
1. Take 1/2 cup of warm water, add sugar and yeast, set aside for around 10 minutes (this starts the yeast working)
2. Rub butter (in small pieces) into flour and salt mixture in a large bowl (I use an earthenware one)
3. Add yeast mixture, plus 3 cups of warm water; stir with a large wooden or plastic spoon (not metal, which would chill the mix)
4. Add a little more water, (or flour), until a 'stiff' mixture has been achieved.
5. Turn out onto a floured surface and pummel it for 5 minutes (this makes you forget about the storm & your worries!)
6. Wash & clean the bowl with hot water (this will help the rise)
7. Dress the bowl with about a teaspoon of olive oil (just swish it around!)
8. Add your 'new' dough....cover with a clean tea towel (or plastic film, if you must)
9. Let it rise for 60 minutes.
10. 'Punch' the risen dough down in the bowl for about 2 minutes....let it rise under the towel, again for 20 minutes (pre-heat oven to 450F at this point)
11. Pull pieces about the size of a tennis ball off the dough, with floured hands, and shape them - I usually roll between my palms; this is messy but satisfying!
12. Place them on a cookie sheet which has been floured (or use 'Silpat' silicon sheet, as I do). Dust them with flour, for that 'bakery' look!
13. Let them rise under the towel, again for 10 minutes
14. Put them in the 450F oven (center shelf) and turn oven down to 400F , as they go in
15. Bake for approximately 20 minutes - check to see if they are 'done' (they make a nice sound when tapped) and they should be browned on top
16. Remove from oven, let rest c. 2 minutes on the sheet, then remove to cooling tray
17. Split open - serve IMMEDIATELY with butter and preserves! Let remainder cool and use for sandwiches, with hearty soups etc.
Notes: SF available for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, house parties, etc !! :)