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Many summers ago a dear friend taught me the art of baking Italian bread. Stir the little yeasties gently in one direction so as to not upset them. Give them a little sugar to help them grow… After several risings, and shaping into long beautiful loaves, the bread would finally be done. We’d carefully saw slices from the delicate warm loaves and eat them, sometimes with butter and some times with chunks of cheddar cheese. That summer we made omelettes using fresh vegetables from the garden, and though my memory is fuzzy, I think we ate off of hand made plates. Little did I know way back then, the seeds of the slow food movement were being planted in my soul.

I think one of the most meditative things we can do is to slow down and prepare the food we put in our bodies. The miracle of life is in everything we eat: it nourishes us, comforts us, and sustains us. When we become mindless about essentials, we lose ourselves in the mad dash of a face paced existence.IMG_2382

ALICE WATERS, Chef: “When you eat fast food, you not only eat the food that is unhealthy for you, but you digest the values that comes with that food. And they’re really about fast, cheap and easy…Probably the greatest lesson I have learned from the Edible Schoolyard project is that, when children grow food and they cook it, they all want to eat it.Alice Waters teaches slow food values in a fast food world.”
July 23, 2015 at 6:20 PM EDT PBS News Hour.

I haven’t lost my love for baking bread and recently I have learned how to bake artisan loaves. My gift to you is this tutorial. Slow down and bake a loaf for yourself.

For one loaf you will need: 

Cast Iron enameled bakeware such as Le Creuset, 2 cups water, 2 Tablespoons of yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 1/2  teaspoon of salt, 5-6 cups flour, 2 Tablespoons of butter (optional)

My recipe: this is doubled for two loaves. The recipe I'm giving you is for one loaf

My recipe: this is doubled for two loaves. The recipe I’m giving you is for one loaf

Start by putting your ungreased bakeware into a 450 degree oven. This preheats the bakeware which is the secret to baking crusty artisan bread. Leave the bakeware in the oven until you are ready to put the bread dough in it. 

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This recipe is made in a Bosch or Kitchen Aid mixer. You can make it by hand also.

Pour 2 Cups warm water into mixing bowl. Add yeast, sugar, salt, and melted butter (optional).

Wait until the yeast is activated…

Yeast is activated when it begins to get bubbly

Yeast is activated when it begins to get bubbly

Turn mixer on and begin adding flour 1 cup at a time. You will know when you have added enough flour as soon as the dough cleans the side of the mixing bowl.

IMG_3285The second the dough cleans the side of the bowl, set the time for 5 minutes and let the mixer continue to knead. After 5 minutes turn the mixer off and put a clean towel over the bowl allowing the dough to rise for 20 minutes or until doubled.

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After the dough is doubled in size turn it out onto a floured counter or bread board and gently knead into a ball.

Carefully take you hot bakeware out of the oven and remove the lid.

Carefully take you hot bakeware out of the oven and remove the lid.

Place the ball of dough into the bakeware. You can cut deep slits in the crust for extra beauty if you’d like.

IMG_3290Put the lids on the bakeware and return to oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

Take the bakeware out of the oven and remove lid.

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Return bakeware to oven for another 15 minutes.

IMG_3294Remove bread from oven and bakeware. Cool on wire racks.

Bon appétit!

Cheers!

Cheers!