Andy and I have been in the Italian Bread and Roll delivery business for almost six years. Although we have an abundance of the finest Italian bread around available to us daily, I rarely eat it because, for nutritional reasons, I prefer to only eat whole grain organic bread, if I eat any at all.
Years ago I had a bread machine and would make a loaf every Sunday with our pasta dinners. Now It has been so long since I made any, I kept thinking I should do that again. I debated on investing in another machine, but then I cam across a video for the book, “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day”.
I was hooked on the video and ordered the book right away. I was excited by the idea of making whole grain bread at home. I pay about $4.00 for my loaves at the store, making it at home cost about $.40-$.50 a loaf.
The book arrived Wednesday evening. I read half of it that night, and went to the store Thursday morning to get the ingredients. I even picked up a new pizza stone! I was so excited. Coming home, I set out my ingredients, and setup my ipad to watch the five minute video as I made I first batch of dough. The batch makes enough for 4 loaves, I halved it so I could try it and then make a different kind the second time.
I dumped all the ingredients as they said, added the warm water, mixed and covered to let rest for 2 hours. When I got home, the dough had doubled. I formed a loaf from half of it, and allowed it to rest and grow on the counter another 1.5 hours. I am not patient, so this seemed like forever. During the last half hour of rest, I preheated my oven and stone.
Finally it was time to put it in the oven. I wet the loaf and covered it in pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and flax seeds.
Then I made my deep slashes.
Finally, into the oven it went, with a tray of warm water beneath for steam.
Thirty minutes later, the house smelled amazing, and it was ready to come out. Wow, it was one gorgeous loaf. It looked just like the picture on the book.
Although, there was one tragedy, my pizza stone broke in half from the steam. Luckily, it was my old stone, not the one I got today.
I let the bread cool for twenty minutes, and then it was tasting time. I called Andy and Mya in, I had my serrated knife and buttery spread all ready to go.
Success! They loved it. So did I. It was a great loaf of wheat. In that sitting we ate 3/4 of the loaf. I am making toast with what is left this morning. I have the other loaf resting in the fridge ready to come out and be formed into another seeded loaf today. I am so glad I tried this.
I plan on making a lot of my own breads now. My grandmothers both made bread. Especially at Easter. Easter bread is a big tradition in an Italian household. My grandmothers were from two different regions of Italy, so the sweet egg based Easter bread they made, was two completely different styles. These two women were best friends and baking rivals. Grandma Falco’s bread was dense and slightly sweet with no frosting. Grandma Capizzi’s was light and sweet, practically a bread cake with frosting and sprinkles. They both used the biggest metal bowls to do their mixing. They leaned over the the huge bowls to punch the dough, nearly disappearing in the depth of the enormous bowl.
The whole house was covered in a light dusting of flour and smelled of baking bread, yeast and sugar during the last two weeks of lent. They both baked loaves around the clock. I don’t know how they did it in such small kitchens. The refrigerator was packed with dozens of eggs and tons of butter and there were wicker laundry baskets all over the house lined with tea towels that covered the rising dough beneath the blankets and towels that kept the dough warm.
When ever we came in the house, Grandma would yell, “hurry, shut the door, the draft will hurt the dough!” In between all the bread making and decorating, there were also Grandma’s Easter pies. Sweet ricotta pie and sweet rice pie. I do not know how we all were so thin growing up in a house with all these goodies. I guess baking with love has less calories! People came from near and far to get a loaf of Grandma’s bread. Easter has never been quite the same since Grandma Capizzi passed. I know I feel her presence in my kitchen as I cook the day away. When ever I run into anyone who knew my Grandmother, they always mention her Easter Bread and her Christmas cookies. She was a master baker who was loved by everyone. I miss her so much.
Although baking is not my strong suit, I love making raw desserts, I am now going to commit to make more bread as my Grandmothers did. My family still enjoys Easter Bread for this last week of lent,only now it comes from the Italian bakery. I have not had any sine I became vegan. I think I may have to work on veganizing grandma’s recipe. Nothing is as good as homemade.
Enjoy your weekend, and Happy Easter to any of you who celebrate it.