The Legacy of My Farmer Grandparents: Hearty Harvest Loaf

With closed eyes, I can still see now, the clay-roofed, neat snow-white house of my grandparents, with its veranda of slender, ruched tree-trunks surrounding it on all sides, so that, in case of a thunder or hail storm, the window-shutters could be shut without one getting wet. The cottage was standing in a village full of values and traditions….

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 PHOTO ENTERED TO THE PINK LADY FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR COMPETITION

Right behind the house there was a courtyard-full of happy animals, chickens, pigs, ducks, goose, pigeons and so…Carrying on through my imagination’s route, I still feel what was it like hiding among the huge log-piles, sitting on my grandfather’s old-fashioned cutting horse with a “stolen” piece of fresh crust. I remember the long walks next to the spicy, earthy, crisp vegetable patches, rows of fragrant cherry and fruit trees that, after covered in a coloured bloom through spring, became topped by juicy crimson goodness and a perfume-filled red apples. I can still take myself to the front of the house where, crossing the spacious yard, the fresh grass, the flowers and the fairy-owned paths, one could refresh the body and mind with crystal-clear water from the old steel spin-operated well. On the farm, a day’s hard work always finished with a fresh vegetable indulged dinner shared by the whole family, sitting together in peace, to then rest in bed and dream about the promise of a wealthy harvest on the golden farm fields, painted with life-enhancing grains bursting with flavour.

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Just one piece of fresh bread, just one sniff of smell, still takes me there, right to the neat clay-roofed house and the golden farm field…

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This bread was made in honor of my grandparents modest still grand life, the change of seasons and the fall-produced luxury of taste selection that inspired my earthy loaf, with its specialty being the use of vegetable stock instead of water.

Ingredients
500g strong white bread flour, plus a little extra flour for finishing
40 g lard or duck fat
25 g fresh yeast
2 tsp salt
280 ml vegetable stock (or cooking water from vegetables)

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Preparation method
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the lard. Add the yeast at one side of the bowl and add the salt at the other, otherwise the salt will kill the yeast. Stir all the ingredients with a spoon to combine. Add half of the stock and turn the mixture round . Continue to add liquid a little at a time, combining well, until  flour is all picked up from the sides of the bowl, until the mixture forms a rough dough. Use about a teaspoon of melted fat to lightly grease a clean work surface. Turn out dough onto the greased work surface and knead.
Clean and lightly grease mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Cover with a damp tea towel and set it aside to prove, the dough should double in size. This should take around one hour. Line a baking tray with baking  paper . Once the dough has doubled in size scrape it out of the bowl to shape it. The texture should be bouncy and shiny. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back by kneading it firmly to ‘knock’ out the air then shape. Place the loaf onto the lined baking tray, cover with a tea towel leave to prove until it’s doubled in size. This will take about an hour. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Put an old, empty roasting tin into the bottom of the oven. After an hour the loaf should have proved . Sprinkle some flour on top and very gently rub it in. Use a large, sharp knife to make shallow cuts. Put the loaf (on its baking tray) into the middle of the oven. Pour cold water into the empty roasting tray at the bottom of the oven just before you shut the door – this creates steam which helps the loaf develop a crisp and shiny crust. Remove the roasting tray after 10 minutes. Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes. The loaf is cooked when tapped it gently underneath it sounds hollow. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

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“Acorns were good till bread was found.” Francis Bacon

2 thoughts on “The Legacy of My Farmer Grandparents: Hearty Harvest Loaf

  1. This may be my favorite post of yours (besides the great lavender shortbread)…the history, the writing that makes it feel like we are in cottage and courtyard, and of course the great photography. Very well done, and to have the bread honor your grandparents modest, yet grand life. Enjoy the coming weekend.

    • Dear Randall, thank you. I will always try my best to create newer and newer favourites for you, especially given that your beautiful latest images of Seattle reminded me of my trip there, where I have also got my hands on a starter culture claimed to had made bread for the people of the Gold-rush! J. XXX

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