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bread and company

If you could not tell, the last couple weeks at work have been crazy.  We had friends over to dinner last night, twelve in all.

It was a simple meal of lasagna and bread, salad and cookies.  There was homemade soda and wine for any one who wished it.  Friends brought the salad, cookies, and wine and I made the rest.  I can feed twelve for close to $20 range.  A lot of it is about patience.  And the healing laughter as well.

Some of the teasing was that I used the small pan.  No one every believes the size of the large pan until they see it!  But there was not teasing about the bread.  Three loaves disappeared.  It was a simple Italian that I found in the cookbook My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino.  I tweaked it a bit.  I did not use their starter but used my sourdough starter and I changed the baking a bit.  And the raising temperatures and times.  My Beloved would call this I changed it a lot.  Fairly normal.  Recipes are just blueprints.....

Italian bread

Sourdough starter (starter, 1 cup flour, 1 cup water.  Let sit 8 hours.  Take out two to four tablespoons for next time)

3 pounds flour

8 teaspoons sea salt

3 3/4 cup water

In a very large bowl, refresh  your starter.  Make sure to take out some for next time before you get started with the rest of this.

Measure in the water, flour, and salt and start stirring.  This dough becomes very thick so you will need to put your hands it and start kneading.  You do not wish to add anymore flour or water.  This will be very soft, or what is know as wet.


You wish to knead this until all the flour is mixed in and the dough is very smooth.  I never take it out my bowl which tells you how big the bowl needs to be and how wet the dough is!

Now, I let this next stage take about eight to ten hours in about 55 to 65 degrees temperature.  I covered the dough and let it have a nice cold slow rise.  The recipe called for a warmer faster rise of 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  This gives you an idea of the leeway you have with bread dough.  Just ask my Beloved.  He is always so surprised.

When the dough has doubled (slooowwwwlllyyy!!! please!), shape into three loaves.  I put them on floured baking stones at this point and covered them again.  I let them rise slowly one more time for another cold slow rise.  Just six hours this time.  A little faster.

Preheat the oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.  Put the bread in.  Lower the temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Lower the temperature on more time to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake for 35 minutes.  This gives the artisanal crust.

But if you are like my family and like a softer crust, put the loaves in a 350 degree oven and bake for 1 hour.  You want a golden crust but the crust is softer.

If you can, wait twenty minutes before cutting.  The bread will be just that much better.  But do please notice, I said if you can!  Twelve people, with other yumminess in front of them, went through three loaves with maybe three slices leftover.

Patience is the key!

The pictures are actually from two different batches.  The bread with the candles is what got eaten.  I think people thought they went to heaven!

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