While working at Butler Green Farms this April, I mostly just threw together meals or fell back on old favorites. I did venture to try my hand at baking my own bread, which was surprisingly quick and straightforward… thanks in large part to this wonderful recipe from James Beard’s Beard on Bread.
This makes a moist but firm loaf great for sandwiches, and could probably be easily jazzed up by a sprinkle of sesame or sunflower seeds on top. I replaced the regular flour with finely ground whole wheat flour, and just rubbed a bit of water on the loaves before baking them, with good results, but I bet the egg wash would make for an awesome crust.
Continental Style Bread
3 teaspoons (1 1/2 packages) active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
5-6 cups flour
A sprinkle yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon egg white, mixed with 1 tbsp. cold water (optional)
Combine yeast with sugar and warm water in a large bowl and allow to proof (get foamy). Meanwhile mix salt into flour and add to yeast mixture a cup at a time until have stiff dough. Remove to a lightly floured board and knead until no longer sticky, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary. Place in a lightly greased bowl and and turn to coat the surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hr. (1 hr. was sufficient when I did it). Punch down dough. Turn out on floured board and shape into two loafs. Place on a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal but not greased. Slash the tops of the loaves diagonally in two or three places and brush with egg wash (or water). Place in cold oven, set temperature to 400ºF and bake 35 minutes, or until well browned and hollow sounding when the tops are rapped.