In the winter, and in fact most of the year, we always have some kind of soup every other week. It is not only highly nutritious for you, but also it is relatively inexpensive in consideration that most Americans buy their lunches either on the job, or at some (yucky) fast food establishment. Being an Eggetarian, who only eats humanely pasture raised eggs and vegees, it is most difficult to find places that serve "my" type of food. So, cooking my meals to take with me is extremely important.
Now for me, along with soup, there is nothing more important than having a nice crusty slice of bread with you to dip into your soup! For me, Rosemary Bread is one of my "must haves" when it comes to soup days.
Organic King Arthur Bread flour is my usual go to for bread baking. An employee owned company which offers extensive baking supplies.
My "mother" is a dough sponge that sits on the counter for several days to create the " sour dough" flavor that I so love in my breads. Very easy to make, and is a key ingredient in quality bread.
Bubbling and smelling a little like hops or beer, means she is working.
Hopefully, you are able to get it fresh, or like me, right out in the front yard.
She is a beauty that I bought as a very small pot. However, here in Texas, they seem to grow crazy when planted into the ground. They love the clay soil here I suppose, or maybe it is all that composted manure that I had put in!
Here are all the ingredients getting ready to be stirred and then ......
Kneaded! This is my favorite part. There is something so basic and satisfying about kneading bread, don't you think?
Now that it has been kneaded and has reach that elastic point, it is ready for a rise. I figured out a way to make a proofing box, like the bagel and bread stores have, but on the cheap. Take one of your clean dish clothes and get it wet. Then put it into the microwave and turn it on until the towel gets hot and starts to steam up the inside of the microwave; usually about 40 seconds. Then just put the bowl of dough into your warm moist (off) microwave and let it do the hard work. Leaving it in the (off) microwave with the door shut, keeps the moisture and heat close to the dough.Leave it alone for about 50 minutes and your dough should be doubled. This works especially well up north, during the winter months when it is difficult to find a warm spot to for your dough to rise.
It should double in bulk like this guy. Next, punch him down and roll out and shape whatever type of bread you want. We prefer baguette style here. So , shape him and let him rise again as whatever loaf you have decided on until he is doubled again.
Then just pop it into your oven at whatever temp. is recommended for your style of loaf ( 400 degrees for my baguette), and viola....
Here is my finished baguette, ( well 3/4 of him)! He is a nice dark brown and super crusty on the outside and super moist and soft crumb on the inside.
As you can see, I do not have any recipe written down as it has been done so often that it is more a matter of just making it. However, there are some great recipes online , and a great book is Crust and Crumb, if you want to get into the chemistry of it. Either way, try making your own bread, I guarantee that once you do, you will not want to go back to the "Mass- produced-baby- blanket- dough" loaves that are out there.