Sunday, August 31, 2014


Bread is not something the average baker makes. I've always enjoyed a great baguette in Paris or a crusty Pain de Campagne from the South of France. I don't mind making it if it's easy. Somehow I always thought it was a long, difficult process. If you love a hot loaf of bread, slathered with butter but were afraid you couldn't make it, I have some foolproof recipes here!

We have a Bread Cloche. It's a Terra Cotta vessel for baking crusty Artisan Bread. It's the answer to making complicated breads, easy!
My wife is a bread connoisseur. She never had a loaf of store bought, sliced , white bread until she went away to college. Can you image that? It was difficult for me to conceive, never enjoying Wonder Bread as a child. I even ate the crust! I don't think I would have survived my childhood without a daily sandwich made with Wonder Bread.
Then, I discovered France.... what a life changing experience for me to sit at a Paris Cafe in the morning and enjoy a cup of some of the best coffee I had ever had, along with a crusty loaf of French Bread with homemade butter! The Baguette!
As I continued to travel throughout France, I eventually discovered Pain de Campagne and again, I was hooked. I never ate another piece of sliced, white, Wonder Bread!

Since this Blog was created in memory of my Aunt Faye, I have to start my Bread post with her recipe and the story about her Irish Soda Bread. Then I'll continue with my latest adaptation of a recipe that I recently discovered for the Easy, Crusty, Pain de Campagne and continue with a few of my other favorite Bread recipes.

I started a collection of my favorite recipes when I was living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the 70's. I had been to college, joined the Peace Corps, returned to college and then had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was a free spirit and decided I needed to take some time to ski.  I was raised in Michigan and when I was in High School, I joined the ski club and that passion was ignited. I chose to spend time in Colorado.  Colorado had such an impact on my life that I decided to invest in some land there in 1990 . Twenty Four years later we increased that 2.5 acres of land to 5 acres. It's our retirement vacation spot in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. While I was there in the 70's I worked in 3 different restaurants to support my skiing habit. I also did some freelance design to afford the best ski equipment. I became obsessed with cooking and recipes and that's when I started a collection of my "Best of the Best" recipes.
It all started with the influence of my Aunt Faye. I talk about her at the beginning of the blog.
Here's one of the recipes that I made often in Steamboat. It's a perfect Hippy in the Kitchen recipe.

Aunt Faye's  Stone Ground Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread.
Summer of 1974 , Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Stone Ground Whole Wheat flour is best. This makes 1 - 7" loaf. I often double or triple the recipe and make 2 - 3 loaves at a time.

1/2 C all purpose flour
2 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 TBS butter
1 1/3 C buttermilk

Mix both flours, salt and soda, sift thoroughly.
Cut in butter with fingers.
Make a well in the center of the flour, add buttermilk and stir until blended,
Dough should be dry enough to knead, but not too dry.
Knead the dough on a floured surface about 30 seconds.
Make a 6" - 7" ball and place on a baking sheet with a little cornmeal.
Cut an X in the top with a  floured serrated knife.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
Remove, rub the top with butter and cool completely,
Most of the time, I don't wait to cool it. I slice it and serve it hot with Fresh Irish Butter.

Peace in the Kitchen!

Easy, Crusty, Pain de Campagne:

3 C All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Yeast
1 1/2 C warm Water

In a large mixing bowl:
Whisk well.
Add Water and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.
The dough will be sticky, that's OK.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature overnight, (12 - 18 hours).

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heavily flour a work surface.
Form the dough into a ball on the flour.
Loosely cover it with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
At this point, put a Cast Iron Dutch Oven or Terra Cotta Bread Cloche (with a cover), in the oven to preheat for 30 minutes while the bread is resting.
NOTE: don't forget to use Oven Mitts when handling the hot Dutch Oven or Cloche!

Put the dough ball in the vessel , cover it and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the cover and continue to bake for 15 minutes.
This will create that crusty exterior of an Artisan Country French Bread.

Serve warm, slathered with homemade butter!

Peace in the Kitchen!

This is our Bread Cloche!

Here's my first recipe posted on my Blog for a very similar Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread:

Our favorite recipe for rolls in on the blog. They're Buttered Rosemary and Sea Salt Rolls from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. They're served at every family gathering, every holiday dinner.
Here's a recipe for homemade bread and I've taken the concept of the rolls and applied it as an option for this bread recipe. My wife was raised on homemade bread. She never had sliced bread as a child. I can't even imagine that. I was raised on nothing but white sliced bread from the grocery store. I have since acquired a taste for homemade bread. My first experience with homemade bread was in Europe, the first time I had a Baguette in Paris. I also spent some time in Germany and fell in love with German Bread. I also have a recipe from Aunt Faye for Stone Ground Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread. I've made that since the early seventies. Since I acquired a passion for Cast Iron Cookware, I love bread made in a Dutch Oven.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread:

3 C flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh active dry yeast
1 1/2 C tepid water

In a large bowl:
Whisk well
Add water gradually, with a wooden spoon, mix well
Cover with a tea towel to rise overnight or at least 12 hours.

Place the Covered Dutch Oven in  the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Remove the Dutch Oven and place it on a stove, remove the cover.
Rub a thin layer of Crisco in the entire interior of the pot using a paper towel.

Flour a work surface
Remove dough from the bowl and , with floured hands, work it into a ball
Place it in the Dutch Oven, cover it
Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minute
Remove the cover, continue baking for 15 - 20 minutes more
The top of the bread should be golden brown

Remove it from the oven
Brush the top with melted butter, sprinkle it with Sea Salt and Fresh chopped Rosemary.
Allow to coo in the pot until col enough to handle

When the bread is still hot, brush the top with melted butter, sprinkle with sea salt and fresh chopped rosemary.
Serve with additional butter

Peace in the Kitchen!

Cast Iron Irish Soda Bread:
I love handmade bread. I don't make it often enough. My aunt had a great recipe for Stoned Ground Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread. It's one of my favorite bread recipes. Here's another good Soda Bread recipe. It's make in a Cast Iron Skillet, that adds to the goodness and the homemade factor!

4 C flour
3 TBS sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C raisins ( I use 1 C golden and 1 C dark)
2 C buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten

Grease a 10" cast iron skillet generously with Crisco or any vegetable shortening

In a bowl, combine:
baking soda
Whisk gently to blend

Stir in raisins to coat well with the flour mixture

Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk and eggs.
Stir until a stiff dough is formed
Mix with floured hands at this stage
Remove the dough and mound it in to the skillet to form a round loaf

Lightly moisten hands with water and smooth the top
With a serrated knife dipped in flour, score the top with an X - 1/2 " deep

Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees

Peace in the Kitchen!

I have become a huge fan of Clodagh McKenna. I recently saw this recipe for an amazing bread, a very Hippy in the Kitchen recipe.
I simply did a copy and paste of the recipe so my European friends can have the recipe. I highly recommend that you research her other recipes.

Here's a bit of information taken from her website:

Over the past 15 years, Clodagh McKenna has become one of the most recognized faces and brands in Ireland’s Food & Lifestyle sectors.

With her passion for food combined with her business savvy, Clodagh has developed her brand into an emerging business empire encompassing Clodagh’s Kitchen restaurants, her television shows, cookbooks and her food column in Ireland’s number 1 glossy magazine, The Gloss. She is regularly asked to contribute to food columns in national newspapers and magazines.

More recently Clodagh has taken the US by storm with her hugely popular US show, Clodagh’s Irish Food Trails which aired on PBS and Create TV reaching audience levels of 15 million.

In addition to the series, Clodagh successfully published two of her cookbooks, Homemade and Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries in USA. She best describes herself as an “eater and a feeder”!

Health Bread:

450g (1lb) wholemeal flour 
65g (21/4oz) wheat germ, plus extra for dusting
65g (21/4oz) plain white flour
65g (21/4oz) wheat bran
225g (8oz) pin-head oatmeal
2 tsp soft brown sugar
2 tsp bread soda or bicarbonate of soda
1 litre (1 3/4 pints) buttermilk
For the topping:
2 tsp (one per loaf) wheat germ 
2 tsp (one per loaf) sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 230oC/ gas mark 8 / 450oF
Put all ofl the dry ingredients in to a large bowl and mix together. Stir in the buttermilk to make a moist dough. 
Lightly grease 2 900g/2 lb loaf tins and dust them with wheatgerm. Divide the dough betweent the tins, smooth the top and make a spacious cross on each one with a floured knife. Sprinkle with wheat germ and sesame seeds. 
Cook the loaves in the oven for 10 minutes, and then reduce the temperature to 130°C / Gas Mark 1 / 265 oF and bake for 1 hour. 
When the loaves are cooked, remove from the oven and leave in the tins to cool a little. Turn them turn out to partly cool in the tins. then turn them out onto wire racksto cool completely.

Peace in the Kitchen!

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