Snow, Bread and Boule!
An Easy Artisan Weekly Make and Bake Rustic Bread Recipe
The snow arrived in soft fluttering flakes and settled as fast as an uninvited guest at the tea-table! The light was bright and the snow-bound garden had that eerie muffled silence that the snow always brings with it. The Aga and fire were lit, the house and kitchen were toasty warm, the cat lay curled up on the sofa and the smell of bread softly stole through the house, its yeasty fragrance so seductive and welcoming. What else is one to do when housebound on a snowy day but bake? Cakes and biscuits are all very well, but one needs and desires a fresh loaf – the crust begging to be broken……fluffy inside and ripe for the butter knife (does one still have butter knives? I know I do, but think they may be a thing of the past now). And, that is just what I did today, baked bread and then scoffed it with greed as well as sporting a buttery chin.
This bread recipe is an absolute winner; sometimes called “Hearth Bread”, the dough is made ahead of time and then used as and when you fancy a freshly baked loaf of bread. This is the trick ~ make up a large batch of rustic artisan style bread dough, store it and then bake a loaf each day you need fresh bread, amazing but true. This is a “hodge podge” of old-fashioned English and French rustic bread recipes; the bread dough is made up ahead of time and stored (in the old days) in an earthenware crock or bowl, with a lid. You tear off a piece of the dough as and when you want to bake a loaf of bread. Easy! You can add other types of flour to the basic white batch, as long as the dry ingredient to liquid ratio remains the same – you can mix rye or whole wheat flour with the white, or add herbs, onions, seeds, fruit and other flavourings…..the possibilities are endless.
The dough can be used as soon as the initial proving has finished, but it will keep in a cool place or a fridge for a week or two – I do not recommend longer than 2 weeks however. The dough can be used for free form bread loaves, in bread tins, as rolls or other shapes…..or for a Boule, as I made today, one of my favourite types of French bread and ideal for slicing for toast and sandwiches. I notice that this type of long-term or long-life bread dough has made a revival in a book called “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”; this recipe however, is a very old technique and method, dough was always made up for the week and then kept in the cold room or pantry for daily baking. My grandmother who lived in a 600 year old cottage in Northern England, used to have a stone slab in the Pantry where she kept her crock and dough, I remember sticking my finger in it!!
This recipe yields about 4 to 5 loaves of bread, depending on the weight and shape of the bread that you bake, and can also be kept in a cool pantry in between baking sessions. It’s an easy recipe and is also very handy to know that you have some of this tucked away for that emergency “snowy day” loaf of bread, or just BREAD! I hope you enjoy this recipe if you make it, do let me know and ask if you need any tips about the method. Have a warm and happy Tuesday, see you later with cakes, salads, books and a new giveaway. Karen
I am entering this bread into Cake Duchess’s Twelve Loaves challenge for January