Thanksgiving Preparations…Cook From Scratch (French-Style Bread Recipe)
Thanksgiving preparations are well underway in my kitchen. Tis the season to cook what’s in season and from scratch.
I started with bread. Bread is great to make ahead of time because it can be frozen and baked right before you serve your meal. I slightly under-bake the bread so when it’s out of the oven the second time it is perfect. Here is my favorite French-style baguette recipe.
[2 long loaves or 4 small baguettes]
2 cups warm water (100 to 115 degrees)
1 1/2 packages active dry yeast /or 2 tsp.
1 tablespoon organic sugar
5 to 6 cups unbleached organic dry-farmed or rain-fed white flour
3 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoons salt
1 tbsp. egg white (from a pasture-raised hen), mixed with 1 tbsp. cold water
Mix warm water, yeast and sugar.
Set the bowl aside for 30 minutes or until the yeast mixture proofs (when you see bubbles).
Combine the salt with the flour and add to the yeast mixture one cup at a time.
Flour a clean surface with flour and begin to knead. You want to knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and transforms into a smooth round lump of dough. You may need to add additional flour (only a small handful at a time).
Place round, smooth dough into a buttered bowl to keep the dough from sticking. Cover with a dishtowel to keep out drafts. Leave the dough to rise. The dough will double in size in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Punch the dough after it has risen (I love this part). Divide the dough into two equal parts. Hand form the dough ( fancy way to say just stretch the dough out to resemble the shape of a baguette) and place on a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or flour. Slash the tops of the loaves diagonally in two to three places, and brush with the egg wash.
Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes (25 minutes if you split the bread into 4 smaller baguettes) or until the bread has a hollow sound when tapped with a wooden spoon. Note: The original recipe calls for the bread to be placed in a cold oven. I have tried both with a cold oven and a pre-heated oven and found the bread to be great either way.
Variation: For a more tightly textured bread, after the first rising, punch down, knead for an additional 5-10 minutes. Return dough to the buttered bowl and allow to rise a second time before hand forming into loaves.
Based on the recipe from Beard on Bread
I made extra bread for the stuffing. I found a great recipe on the Food Network. It is a mix and match stuffing recipe which gives you the freedom to choose stuffing add ins that are local and seasonal. I’m adding dry farmed walnuts, pink lady apples and dried figs, all found at my farmer‘s market.
This morning before school my daughter Isabella helped me get a start on the pumpkin pies. I used leftover halloween pumpkins for the purée. Roasting pumpkins is as simple as sticking them in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour or until soft and mushy. Puncture the skin of the pumpkin with a fork, this speeds along the roasting process and place on a cookie sheet. The pumpkin pie recipe I used is from Simply Recipies. It includes directions for roasting pumpkins.
For the crust I used a recipe I found on Allrecipies. Pie crust can be made in advance. I rolled the dough and draped over pie tins. I tasted the crust with quiche, its buttery flakyness was divine. If your pallette is on the salty side use sweet cream butter otherwise stick to unsalted. I like my crust on the thin side so I split the dough in half and made two crusts instead of one.
When I cook from scratch I break the steps into parts so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. This also lets me squeeze food prep into a busy schedule.
When I cook from scratch I control my ingredients. Each ingredient reflects my wish for clean and abundant water on the planet. I am rewarded with flavor and fragrance unmatched by anything purchased in a box, or out of a plastic bag…like in this moment the homemade pumpkin pie sings nutmeg and cinnamon.
Eat less water at your kitchen table this season!