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Once Upon a time: Cooking … Baking … Traveling … Laughing …

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BBB – Robert May’s French Bread

Our Kitchen of the Month, Ilva – LuculianDelights – introduced this bread saying “I thought you might find it interesting to use a recipe (adapted by Elizabeth David) that was published 354 years ago.”

No, no Ilva, Elizabeth David was writing in the 50’s, that’s nothing like 354 years … haha, lucky for me I didn’t say anything and thereby show off my very sloppy reading skills. I googled The Accomplisht and then did an iBook search for Robert May … and lo and behold there was the 354 year old recipe!

How much thought have you given to how a recipe is written? What do you expect from a recipe?

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Here’s the recipe: Excerpt From: Robert May. “The accomplisht cook / or, The art & mystery of cookery.” as I found it in iBooks.
“To make French Bread the best way.
Take a gallon of fine flour, and a pint of good new ale barm or yeast, and put it to the flour,
with the whites of six new laid eggs well beaten in a dish, and
mixt with the barm in the middle of the flour, also three spoonfuls of fine salt;
then warm some milk and fair water, and put to it, and make it up pretty stiff, being well wrought and worked up,
cover it in a boul or tray with a warm cloth till your oven be hot;
then make it up either in rouls, or fashion it in little wooden dishes and bake it, being baked in a quick oven, chip it hot.”
Now, I ask you, could you bake bread from that recipe?  Elizabeth David seems to have made it possible for us.IMG_6989This struck me as a most unusual way to come up with a bread recipe and Elizabeth David’s recipe seemed almost too simple and straight forward to produce good bread. My expectations were very low.  I can assure you this is in fact a very simple bread to make. These are the breads I call fast. There’s no fiddling, no folding, no temperature taking, no long rising time. You mix it, let it rise, shape it, let it rise, bake it and you have gorgeous, glorious and fabulous tasting bread in easily under 4 hours. While I love all the fancy bread baking and I’ve never been bothered by a recipe that may take days and days, this is the kind of recipe that reminds and renews the joy of the simple.

What did I change? Who me? Change a recipe? Add things? Would I do that!?
Right, I did or at least this is what I did.  I used 250 water and 100 milk, 30 grams flax seed, and … half King Arthur’s Sir Lancelot for the unbleached white flour and a mix of Sprouted Wheat and white whole wheat for the whole wheat.  This was so fast, so easy … my expectations were VERY low.  This turned out to be exceptional! Wonderfully fragrant and chewy! … and the crowd went wild …

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Since Ilva’s challenge here was to give this a special shape, I went for simple – simple recipe, simple shape – but wanted to try something I hadn’t done before.  When I formed the dough into a round, the shape sort of spoke to me.   I took scissors and snipped it around turning the plate as I snipped. Raw it looked like a Christmas tree but it smoothed and flattened some in the pie palate that I baked it in. Had I not shaped rolls with a third of the dough, I believe it would not have spread out and flattened as much.

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I loved the rolls. I thought to make little sandwiches but just toasted and buttered was as far as I got.

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Bake it! you won’t regret it, I promise.

BBB Robert May’s French Bread from 1660

Recipe From as Kitchen of the Month Ilva: from Elizabeth David’s English Bread and Yeast Cookery

500 grams half-and-half mixture of unbleached white and wheatmeal, 1 lb 2 oz
15 grams  yeast (fresh), 0,5 oz
2 egg whites
280-340 grams water and milk,preferably 3/4 water and 1/4 milk, 0,5 pint to 12 oz
15 grams salt, 0,5 oz

1. – Warm flour and salt in a very tepid oven. (you can skip this but I did it) … yes, I skipped this.

2. – Pour in the yeast creamed in a little of the warmed milk and water mixture. Add the egg whites, beaten in a small bowl until they are just beginning to froth. Pour in the remaining milk (but not all at once like I did, I had to add more flour to get the right consistency). Mix as for ordinary bread dough.  Oh, good grief, I did dump all of it in at once.

3. – Leave to rise until spongy and light. This will take 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature of the ingredients when the dough as mixed.  My took an hour.

4. – Break down the dough, divide it into two round loaves-or long rolls if you prefer. (I made one oval loaf). Cover with plastic or a light cloth and leave to recover volume. About 30 minutes should be enough.

5. – Decorate crust with cuts or not. Bake in a pre-heated oven (230°C/450°F) for the first 15 minutes. Then to prevent the crust to get too hard, cover the loaves with bowls or an oval casserole. In another 15 minutes the l0aves should be ready. (I did not cover my loaf because I had nothing of that size of shape that I could use so I lowered the temperature to 175°C/350°F and left it in for another 15-20 minutes.

 

As an aside, not bread related, I ask: Just how wild do you think the American west is today? Let’s say in Montana.

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We took these photos as we drove through Montana from Seattle back to our cabin in the woods.

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Maybe not so wild.  Sign said do not approach the animals.

 

Want to become a Bread Baking Babe? and get glorious bread in the process, here’s how Ilva tells it: You have to take look at what the other Bread Baking Babes have made and if you want to bake this bread and become a Bread Baking Buddie,  please bake and send me the link to your blog post about it before midnight Saturday 28th of September to luculliandelights AT gmail DOT com, please write Bread Baking Buddy in the subject line so that I don’t miss it!

Now you’re ready for bread!

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