3-Hour French Bread

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I don’t know where this recipe originated, but it was passed along to me by my friend, Tiffany.  My son and I were able to have some delightful first, second and third experiences with this tasty bread during a recent visit with Tif and her family.  Let’s just say that we enjoyed it…a lot.  So, we brought home the recipe.

Tiffany and I met in college some twenty years ago.  We have a lot of similar interests–baking, gardening, reading and loving on our families.  She and I do some of the same weird things–homeschool, drive really old vehicles whose “check engine” lights are almost always on and re-use storage bags and parchment paper.  We appreciate one another’s differences, too.  We don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, and we’re okay with that.  Really, Tif’s greatest flaw is that she thinks Double-Stuf Oreos are disgusting.  Obviously, she’s wrong…but I can overlook that.

One of the things that I love most about Tiffany is that I can count on her to tell me the truth in love.  For the better part of a year, I went through a rough patch of adulthood.  I’m not sure exactly what all was the problem, but I felt a desperation and an isolation that was mostly new to me.  I felt out of control and lost and so very, very lonely.  It was awful.  My perspective was so emotion-driven that it was skewed.  I knew that it was skewed, but I had a hard time keeping myself together.

My friend heard my heart.  She did not trivialize my pain.  She did not condescend to my choices.  She just repeatedly pointed me to Christ.  She reminded me that my standard can be found in Him and that He is a safe place for my aching heart.  She encouraged me to set aside time to just praise Him–to bask in His love and goodness.  I knew all of these things already, but my soul was struggling to act on these truths.  She was one of the friends whose loving counsel provided me with both motivation and accountability.  I needed both.

Friends, love one another.  Whether it’s an encouraging email, a listening ear or a warm loaf of bread, love the folks around you.  There’s no time like the present.

So, back to the bread…

This is super easy to make and yields consistent results.  And, any leftovers make killer French toast.

3-4 c. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. yeast
1 t. sugar
1 1/2 c. water

Mix 3 c. flour with remaining ingredients.  Knead, adding in approximately 1 c. more of flour.

Cover and let rise in oiled bowl for 1 1/2 hours.

Make two long loaves.  Let rise 1 hour on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

After rising time, make four evenly-placed horizontal slashes on top of loaves.  I’ve found that a serrated knife works well for this.

In preheated 450-degree oven, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until internal temperature is between 190 and 210 degrees.  (To create a traditional French bread crust, preheat an oven-safe pan on the lowest rack.  After placing the unbaked bread in the oven, throw a 1/2-cup of water in the hot dish and quickly close the door.)

Brush with butter while still warm, if desired.  (And why wouldn’t you desire it?)

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Parmesan Herb Crostini

With all of our garden greens, we’ve been eating a lot of salads around here.  There are so many ways to make a salad that my hubby and I really don’t get tired of them.  Some of my kids, however, quickly tire of any salad which does not have lots of bacon–which is almost every salad we make around here!  I thought that serving these crunchy little crostini on leftover French bread with our next salad might be a good way to hold off their total salad burn-out.

1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. fresh oregano
2 t. fresh basil
1/2 t. fresh thyme

Combine cheese and herbs; set aside.

Brush slices of French bread with oil on both sides.  Bake slices at 350 for 5 minutes.

Turn slices over and spread herb mixture on soft side of bread.  Return to oven and bake another 7-10 minutes.

Yum!

Fresh Cranberry Scones

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I really enjoy fresh cranberries, but they’re tough to find outside of the holiday season.  I will often buy a bag or two for the freezer when they’re available.  These scones are a refreshing treat—and especially tasty with a hot cup of tea.

2 ½ c. flour
½ c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ t. ground cloves (or the zest of one lemon)
¼ c. cold butter, grated
1 c. whipping cream
¾ c. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 t. milk
2 T. sugar

Combine first 5 ingredients.

Add butter, mixing until crumbly.

Add whipping cream and cranberries, stirring just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto lightly-floured surface; knead 5 or 6 times—basically until mixture holds together well and can be shaped into 8” circle.

Cut disc into 8 wedges and place on lightly-greased baking sheet.  Prick wedges 3-4 times each with fork.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 425 for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

These are especially good warm.  They freeze well when wrapped tightly.

 

Green Tomato Bread

I don’t like green tomatoes.  I’ve tried.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  I’ve tried them friend, in chutneys, in salsas and in relishes.  I just can’t get into them.  I can eat them, but I don’t enjoy them.

Until this.

Thank you to my friend, Charlene, for sharing this tasty recipe.  It’s definite proof that if you add enough sugar to anything, it can be good.

This makes two standard loaves.

3 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
1 t. salt
1 T. vanilla
2 c. grated green tomatoes, drained
3 c. flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. dried fruit of your choice, chopped to the size of raisins
1 c. chopped nuts, if desired

Beat eggs well and add sugar, oil, salt, vanilla and tomatoes.

Sift dry ingredients separately, then gradually add to tomato mixture.  Stir in raisins and nuts.

Pour into greased bread pans and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

This is a delicious and simple special-occasion breakfast that is quick to put together for company.  You can certainly substitute raspberry preserves if you’d like.  If you’re having a large, brunch-type gather, these rich, filling “sandwiches” can easily be halved.

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T. powdered sugar
2 T. strawberry preserves
8 slices sturdy bread
2 eggs
½ c. half-and-half or whole milk
2 T. sugar
4 T. butter

Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar in a small bowl; mix well. Stir in preserves.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over 4 slices of bread; top with remaining slices to form sandwiches.

Whisk together eggs, half-and-half and sugar in a medium bowl; set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip each sandwich into egg mixture, completely covering both sides.

Cook sandwiches 1-2 minutes per side or until golden.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Zucchini Cheddar Drop Biscuits

My friend, Christie, ran across this recipe a couple of years ago and thought I might like to try it out.  I did, and I’m glad.  These biscuits are a fun change of pace for the usual zucchini fare. Oh, and these biscuits freeze very nicely.

3/4 cup zucchini, shredded (about 1 small zucchini)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 cup grated cheddar or other cheese of your choice (hot pepper is good!)

2 1/2 cups of flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 stick butter, super cold and grated

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Shred the zucchini. Using a cheese cloth, add the zucchini to the center and squeeze all of the excess water out. Transfer to a small bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of flour. Mix and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Working quickly, add the grated butter and work with your hands until mixture resembles cornmeal.

Add the milk, zucchini and cheddar until moistened. Drop batter, using two tablespoons, on a baking sheet lined.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. 

Makes 15 or so biscuits

Kimberly’s Gingered Summer Squash Muffins

My good friend, Tif, passed this recipe along to me, and it’s a good one–a nice change from the usual zucchini bread.

NOTE: Zucchini and summer squash are virtually inter-changeable.

2 cups flour (fresh ground whole wheat works best, but unbleached all purpose flour works too)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
2/3 cup oil (olive or coconut oil is great!)
3/4 cup honey (or 1 cup sugar)
2 cups summer squash

Sprinkle with chopped, sugared dried ginger root if you want to after you’re poured the batter into the tins.

Mix together and pour in muffin tins.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

These freeze wonderfully once baked.