Bread and Soup for Dinner

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/bread-soup-for-dinner.aspx

soup and breadAs promised from my last blog, here’s the soup recipe (keep in mind quantity is all relative). You will need a large pot, like a stock pot, preferably with lid. This is preliminary, as it will lead into my favourite subject:  Bread. It’s always good to have a little soup with your bread. 

Place turkey carcass or ham bone in pot, and cover with water. Place lid, if it will fit, over the carcass. Add herbs, salt, and pepper to your taste (1/2 half teaspoon of each rosemary, thyme, savory, marjoram or whatever you like works well). Bring to a boil, and simmer for one to two hours. After your allotted cooking time is up, remove carcass/bone and feel free to pick off the remaining meat, which is added back to the soup. Discard carcass/bone. If you want to make the broth into soup now, add your preferred vegetables (carrots, celery, onion, and for the turkey, maybe some noodles). Simmer a little longer or, alternatively, add during the last hour of your cooking time. The hambone really cries out for some dried split peas, either yellow as the Dutch like, or green: rinsed, about 1pound of beans to 3 quarts of broth, which can be added at the beginning of your simmering. In either case, don’t forget the bay leaf. If the pea soup gets too thick, just add more broth or water. If it’s too thin, just wait a while; it often thickens after cooling, and, in fact, tastes better the next day. Adjust for salt and pepper to your taste again. If you are not making soup right away and wish to freeze it, let it cool, then ladle into freezer containers and freeze. It will keep for several months in the freezer. Just defrost a day or two in your refrigerator, where it will help your fridge stay cool! Either soup should serve about 10.

Now for the real meat of the subject: Bread. It’s great food. Here goes:

My Basic Loaf

1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour

In 1-cup glass measuring cup, heat milk, sugar, salt and butter (I do this in 15 second intervals) in microwave, until butter is melted.  (It can also be done on the stove.)  It should reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer, or feel nice and warm on your hand, but not hot.  

Dissolve yeast in another cup with the warm water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, until frothy (this is called “proofing your yeast”).  

In large bowl, mix yeast mixture with milk mixture. Using a strong arm, beat in about 2 cups of the flour. A stand mixer can also be used. The mixture should be smooth, then stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a medium stiff dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured board, and knead, using an “up-and-over” technique with the balls of your palms. Knead until dough has a silky, velvety feel. Additional flour may be needed if dough remains sticky. This usually takes about five minutes, but could take up to 10.  

Place finished dough in a greased bowl, turn to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a draft free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled.  

When risen, punch dough down using your fingers or fist, but no need to get too violent, knead lightly, then let rest for a few minutes. This will help to relax the dough.  

Shape dough into roughly a rectangle, with the length being almost as long as your pan. Roll up, like a jelly roll, and place in 8-by-4 loaf pan. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for about one hour.  It should be doubled again.

Bake in a preheated 400 oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown. Using a knife handle, gently rap the loaf. It will sound hollow if it is done.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.  Makes one loaf.

Note:  This dough can also be formed into many shapes and rolls, and can be easily doubled if desired to make two loaves. That way, if you somehow don’t eat the second loaf, it can be frozen. If this miracle does happen and the loaf makes it to the freezer, just take it out and leave on the counter for one to two hours to defrost.  

So there you have it. Bread and soup for dinner. Next time, we will discuss some of the origins, facts and history of bread.