This summer, I went on a mission within my house. See, between 2006 and 2009 when we moved into our house, I had lived in approximately nine different houses (in three different countries). Like a squirrel, I had my stuff hidden away in people’s attics and basements and spare room closets all over the Midwest. So, when word got out that we had bought a house…with a basement…back came all my stuff…and with gleeful abandon, in an effort to make our new home, well homey, by Christmas, I chucked stuff in the basement and in random closets with little thought to order or ever finding any of it ever again.
Until this past summer. Planning on having a little one in the near future got me going. I pay attention…I see my new-mom friends overjoyed at getting a whole hour to work on a project before being interrupted. This was my chance. I had 2 and a 1/2 months of summer to get stuff done, with nothing to stop me except my innate need to be in the sun when it’s sunny out. So, I spent mornings in our house, tearing closets and basement corners apart, and afternoons in a lawn chair with a good book. It was awesome.
One day, Eric came home to find me literally surrounded by boxes and rubbermaids and piles of stuff that I had mentally categorized with labels like “gymnastic memories” and “jr. high journals” and “Eric’s college stuff.” As he shook his head wondering what kind of woman he had married and began to question my sanity as he gingerly picked his way through the minefield of closet vomit, he said, “You are literally the most Type A person I have ever met.” And that’s when I found it….my character awards from my first three years of elementary school. They read, in order…
“This award is hereby given to Elizabeth Kurtz on this date of ______ for the character quality of…
Isn’t it every parent’s dream to have an anal 8 year old? I’d like to think so.
So what does all of this have to do with peasant bread?
I live across the street from one of the best bakeries in Minneapolis, known throughout the metro area for its goodies and baked bread. And yet, a few Saturdays ago, when we had this chili, I thought, you know what? I’ve got a few hours. I’m going to make me some homemade peasant bread. And that I did. The recipe (from Real Mom Kitchen) was just so tantalizingly easy looking. So few ingredients. And, even though it didn’t turn out quite as pretty as my bakery’s peasant bread, it tasted like freaking fresh homemade bread with a nice crusty exterior and soft spongy interior. The shape and texture is absolutely perfect for dipping in chili or soup…or just for slathering butter on.
So…got a few hours this weekend? Or not and just feel like doing something over-the-top overachievery? Make this bread…better yet, put it on your list of things to do, make it, and then cross it off your list.
(recipe from realmomkitchen.com)
(yields 2 rounds)
This recipe makes 2 round loaves. It's super easy to freeze one in an airtight plastic bag. When I made it, I halved it because I didn't have that much flour on hand. Also, don't be like me. I tried to use a knife to make a criss-cross pattern on top of the bread and it was an utter fail. You could try your own pattern, but it just didn't work that well for me.
1 pkg. dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp. = 1 packet)
2 c. warm water*
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
4 c. flour
Cornmeal (about 2 tbsp)
Melted butter (about 1 tbsp)
to dissolve yeast, use an instant-read thermometer & get your water to 110-115* or test a drop on your wrist (you want it warm, not hot)
Place yeast, water, sugar, and salt in a large (non-metallic) bowl and stir (with a non-metallic spoon) until dissolved.
Add flour and stir until well blended. The original recipe said to not knead at this point, but I found it necessary to knead just a little just to get it combined well.
Lightly oil bowl (I use a spritz of cooking spray). Cover dough with plastic wrap (I also oil this lightly) and let rise until double in size (about 1 hour). [**See note about rising below.]
Remove dough from bowl and form into 2 flattish rounds. Place rounds on a greased cookie sheet sprinkled with the cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with flour, cover with a clean towel, and let rise for an additional hour.
Brush top of dough with melted butter and bake in a preheated 425* oven for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375* and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
**The only way I can get my dough to rise properly is if I heat my oven on 200* and set the dough bowl /rounds on my back burner, rotating the bowl occasionally.