Monday, June 16, 2008

Exotic bread and Greek cheese

I have fun with my marvelous bread machine. Making exotic bread falls into the category of creative art. For example, on Saturday afternoon, I tackled a new recipe in order to take along a home-baked loaf to a dinner evening at Linda's place. Basically, it incorporated walnuts (not unusual in our corner of France), but it was considerably more complex than ordinary walnut bread. But, before describing the recipe, I must say a few words about our dinner evening, which was great. Besides Linda, there were two other nurses: my old friends Eveline and Lulu. And I met up for the first time with Eveline's companion, René. Although it wasn't exactly a warm evening, Linda organized her dinner (Hungarian goulash and steamed potatoes) on the lawn outside her old farmhouse, beneath the stars. Well, just as we were starting dessert, the valley was lit up by an unexpected fireworks display: no doubt, some kind of a village celebration down around St-Nazaire-en-Royans. As far as we were concerned, it was as if Linda had organized this show for our dinner evening.

Yesterday, I repeated the bread recipe with slight variations, then I tasted the end result with Greek feta cheese. Delicious! The quantities I indicate in the following instructions are for a loaf of 750 grams. Start out with two tablespoons of butter at the bottom of your bread machine (or cake dish, if you're operating manually). Beat an egg with a fifth of a liter of milk, and pour the mixture onto the butter. Sprinkle 375 grams of ordinary white flour onto the liquid. Next, add the following four ingredients: three teaspoons (referred to as coffee spoons in France) of sugar, two of salt, one of cinnamon and two tablespoons of dried milk powder. I then added ten grams of dried granulated yeast, distributed evenly over the surface of the previous ingredients. Finally, the fruit: 170 grams of dried raisins soaked in water, then 50 to 100 grams of chopped walnuts. [Here at Gamone, I tend to be heavy-handed in my use of walnuts, since I've got big bags of them in various corners of the house.] In my bread machine, when the kneading was terminated and the dough was ready to start rising, I covered the surface with a mixture of dried poppy and sesame seeds. The bread was cooked slowly until the crust was dark brown.

The resulting bread, with a rough nutty texture and spicy aroma, can accompany either salty cheese or sweet stuff such as fig jam. Let's give it a name: Gamone walnut bread.

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