Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I try my hand at making "Artisan Bread"

Lest you think that the cats and the sheep have completely taken over my blog - here is something completely different!

A couple of months ago, I brought home the "Real Food”magazine from our local Haggengrocery store. It's a magazine that partners up with upscale food and grocery stores with seasonal recipes and articles about local happenings. Well, it had a small article about a “new” flour brand put out by Fisher Flour Mills in Seattle (you might know them from their Fair Scones that are sold throughout the west at county and regional fairs during the summers)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Fisher mills - #1 As the daughter of a wheat farmer, I appreciate anyone who brings our product to market in a more direct manner and #2 – They are “local” – ie Pacific NW local.So when I read about their Shepherd’s Grain flour project, I really wanted to support it. The farmer’s share of a bag of flour is less than 15 cents a pound – When a group of enterprising farmers – many of their families have been farming in Eastern Washington since the late 1800’s – approached Fisher Mills about grinding this flour for them – they already had local bakeries and restaurants who were eager to get a “local” product for their baking.

Well, you really know that it’s time to put your money where your mouth is when you pick up a 5# sack of flour and it’s more than two times the cost of the “store” brand. Ouch…. But, I bought their plug for “Sustainable farming” and bit the bullet (and bought their flour).

As I said, this was primarily a flour manufactured for wholesale, and they now offer it to the retail market in pretty red & white plaid 5# bags. The bags have the “Artisan Bread” recipe on the back. You know, the one where you just mix flour, water, salt & yeast, stir it up some and ta da – a nice crusty loaf of bread pops out of the oven in less than three hours – no kneading or anything, just mix ‘er up and let ‘er rise.

Having made bread all my life (although not much recently) I have been skeptical of this recipe. But a friend from church brought some to a potluck a few months ago and it was very tasty – it was time to try it out.

Well, the first brick, I mean, loaf, from this batch, could easily have been used as a murder weapon. “What was the cause of death?” – “Blunt force trauma caused by a loaf of bread, your honor” –

But between baking the first and second loaves, I read another article in a foodie magazine that I get and allowed more time for the second loaf to rise.

And, I buttered it when it came out of the oven – so it was “crusty”, but not break your tooth crunchy. Unfortunately, my recent cold had rendered my taste buds inoperative, but The Shepherd declared it very tasty – and when would I make more?

So, this afternoon I made another batch - this time I used the recipe from the foodie magazine - used more water and less flour - definitely a "sticky" dough - too sticky to make the signature slashes on the top, (but it did taste OK) and I'm going to have to refine the flour/water ratio - The second loaf is supposed to last in the fridge for up to two weeks, so it will be OK to sit in there until next weekend when I'll have time to mess with it a little more.

I'm not going to bother with posting the recipe - there are many versions of it on the interwebs - just Google "artisan bread recipe" and you'll get about 795,000 results -

1 comment:

Kathy said...

So...if I send you some $$$ for 5# of this flour, and shipping, can I get in on supporting "local" folk as well?
I switched from Gold Medal Flour, one of the Midwest's stand-by for years, to King Arthur Flours. recently, I asked GM point-blank where they got their wheat from. Was it all US wheat? The answer I got wasn't what I wanted to hear - nope. Not all USA wheat used in GM and they wouldn't say anything when I asked if wheat came from other than North America (Canada raises allot of wheat too). What I found out was that GM flour can be from all over the world.
OK...so good for the World Economy, I guess. But I wanted to support US wheat farmers.
So...King Arthur and White Lily are in my cupboard! I am passionate on supporting US wheat farmers since I know "the daughter of a wheat farmer"! :)