[the rustic bread recipe is after the jump]
So somehow, I was talked into (or talked myself into) having 11 people for brunch on Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day. I don't know how these things happen, I really don't. One minute, I'm contemplating making French toast for brunch on Sunday, and the next, there are 11 more people joining me. Really, I can't be responsible for myself when I'm thinking of brunch, it's all the hazy sunshine mixed with a heavy dose of champagne that clouds my judgment.
Regardless, if there is a holiday that is worthy of a brunch, it is Mother's Day. You see, my mom, she is amazing. She is a super-woman. I don't know how she does it, I wish I could tell you her secret, but she is just so above and beyond, well, anyone else, that when in 6th grade we had to write an essay about the woman we most admired in life (and boy, there is a wealth of choices, isn't there!), I was like, "DUH" and put "my mom." I don't think I ever let her see the essay, though, because that would have been embarrassing, to be admiring your mom in your teenage years, you know?
If your mom is a fabulous, sparkling, diamonds and rubies kind of lady, it's hard to find things to impress her with. Luckily, I don't have to - because she also loves me like no one else, which means it's easy to make her happy. And yet, such is the nature of the mother-daughter relationship, that I still try, all the time, to make something new to dazzle her with. I've put together a few recipes for you guys that my mom has loved and I hope that whatever you do, whatever you make, you just let your mom know that you love her, because that really is the most important part of Mother's Day (and every day). Ugh, now I am being schmaltzy, but it's just that time and I can't help it. On to the food:
Strawberry Frangelico Tart (with mascarpone)
Strawberry Tart (without Frangelico, but with pastry cream)
Crepes With Sauted Apples (here is a recipe for the crepes)
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
What will I be making for my mom on Mother's Day? For the others, there will be bagels and crab salad and a yet un-tested and un-photographed (but delicious sounding) baked French toast with sauted apples; but for my mom, there will be bread, because it is the thing that sustains us, just like our mothers. Cue the music, you guys, because when I go for the sentimentalism, I don't hold back! :)
Adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman via Break for Bread (a lovely blog, btw)
Makes 2 large loaves
This is a wonderful, dense country bread that's perfect for sandwiches (or for slathering with salted butter, as A. likes to eat it, dispensing with all the sandwich nonsense). It wasn't difficult to make at all and I encourage you to try. As you can tell, my bread-slashing skills leave a lot to be desired, so if anyone has any advice on how to go about slashing the loaves, I would greatly appreciate it!
Bread Flour: 1 lb, 9.6 oz (80%)
Whole-wheat flour: 6.4 oz (20%)
Water: 1 lb 6.1 oz (69%)
Salt: .6 oz (1.8%)
Yeast: .06 oz, instant (.6%)
Total Yield: 3 lb, 6.7 oz (171.4%)
Bread flour: 1 lb (3 5/8 C)
Water: 9.6 oz (1 ¼ C)
Salt: .3 oz (½ T)
Yeast: 1/8 tsp, instant
Total: 1 lb, 10 oz
Bread Flour: 9.6 oz (2 ¼ C)
Whole wheat flour: 6.4 oz (1 ½ C)
Water: 12.5 oz (1 ½ C)
Salt: .3 oz (½ T)
Yeast: .06 oz instant (½ tsp)
Pre-ferment: 1 lb, 10 oz (all of above)
Total: 3 lb, 6.7 oz
1. PRE-FERMENT: Disperse the yeast in the water, add the flour and salt, and mix until just smooth. At 60 percent hydration, it will be stiff and dense, but add water if necessary to correct the hydration. Cover the bowl with plastic and let stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70°F. When ripe, the pre-ferment will be domed and just beginning to recede in the center.
2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl except the pre-ferment. In a spiral mixer, mix on first speed for 3 minutes in order to incorporate the ingredients. As the dough is coming together, add the pre-ferment in chunks. If necessary, correct the hydration by adding water or flour in small amounts. Finish mixing on second speed for about 21⁄2 minutes. The dough should be supple and moderately loose, with moderate gluten development. Desired dough temperature: 75°F.
3. BULK FERMENTATION: 21⁄2 hours. [Irene's note: don't forget to fold! See step 4 below]
4. FOLDING: Fold the dough twice, once after 50 minutes of bulk fermentation and again 50 minutes later. [Irene's Note: I lifted the dough off the counter and let it stretch, and then folded in thirds like an envelope]
5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into 1.5-pound pieces. Preshape lightly into rounds and place on a lightly floured work surface, seams up. Cover the rounds with plastic. When the dough has relaxed sufficiently (10 to 20 minutes), shape into round or oval loaves, place them either into floured bannetons or between folds of floured baker’s linen, and cover with plastic. [Irene's note: I floured a stiff cotton apron that I have and folded it to make little wells for the bread, propping it up on either side with something to keep it from sliding apart]
6. FINAL FERMENTATION: Approximately 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 hours at 75°F.
7. BAKING: Invert the risen loaves onto the loading conveyor or peel. Slash the desired scoring pattern with a blade. Presteam the oven, load the bread, and steam again [Irene's note: I only did this once by putting an empty loaf pan on the bottom of the oven while it pre-heated, and then pouring a cup of boiling water into it right after I placed the loaves into the oven to create steam]. Bake at 450°F. Open the oven vents after the loaves show color, in order to finish the bake in a drying oven [Irene's note: I also didn't do this as my oven has no way to open and close the vents... it worked out just fine, I promise]. Loaves scaled at 1.5 pounds should bake for 35 to 38 minutes.