Weep, weep. Sniff, weep, big sigh.
I now have a big empty void in my life.
I write this to get my mind off my mourning. Paul and I watched the last episode of BBC’s “Merlin” today. It was a 5 year series that we have crammed into one fun summer of magic, dragons, castles and knights, streaming from Netflix. Some days we would get greedy and watch 6 episodes. Most of the time we rationed ourselves to just 2 a day. We watched the characters grow and develop their personalities. We all grew to hate Morgana, shake our heads at Uther Pendragon, keenly anticipate Merlin’s visits to the dragon trapped in the bowels of the Castle in Camelot. In this series both Merlin and Arthur are about the same age, I’d say about 17 or 18. Now it’s been 5 years. It was planned to be a 5 year series, when they wrapped up the story. So we kind of knew what was coming.
I think I need to wear a black armband now. And need some comfort food. We knew the legends.
It was very dramatic. I wept as though I had just lost my a dear friend. I guess I am that sappy. Or perhaps the writers and actors and directors are just that good. When it was over, Paul and I just sat there. It was silent. Except for my sniffing. Sighhhhhhh.
So to get my mind of my sorrow, I will share this bread recipe. Its been a while since I have shared a bread recipe.
It always impresses me when I think about how many breads there still are that I have yet to make. My bread futures as it were. And I have made a few. Just this past weekend I tried a new recipe for Vienna Bread. I first saw it in a book I have simply called “bread” and it is a DK book which means it is full of beautiful photography that makes you want to lick the pages. I actually found this book at an airport gift shop (Whaa?) and still refer to it quite a bit. There are pictures of what the different washes make the crust look like before and after baking, pictures of different grades of wheat, lots of photos. Plus bread recipes from all over the world.
But then I found another Vienna bread recipe in Beth Hensperger’s ‘The Bread Bible’ book that made 2 loaves and looked more appealing. That is the recipe I will share with you in spite of the sweat dripping down my back and neck. If I had any brains I would pick this laptop up and go into one of the air conditioned rooms. But I don’t. It would take too much energy.
The photos come to you from my friend Linda who ended up buying this loaf for her family.
1 cup warm water
1 ½ tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm milk (not over 110 degrees though or your yeast will die a quick and painless death, resulting in a brick).
2 cups high protein flour such as bread or some all-purpose.
In a large bowl with a whisk or in your mixer, pour all the sponge ingredients. Mix well until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let sit for about an hour, while it rises and gets foamy. Keep at room temperature.
To make the dough:
All of the sponge
1 Tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 ½-4 cups flour
Egg glaze and sesame seeds
Add the salt, butter and 1 cup of the flour to the bowl with the sponge. Beat for 1 minute. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
Either turn out onto a lightly floured surface for kneading by hand or using a kneading hook, use your standing mixer and knead the dough until smooth and springy. Even if using a mixer, I usually take it out to knead a few times by hand. The dough should be firm enough to hold its own shape. (But still tacky)
Put the dough into a large oiled bowl and turn the dough over in it to oil both sides. Cover with plastic wrap again (like an old loaf bag cut open) and let it rise until doubled about 1-1 ½ hours.
Time to shape the dough. Gently press the air out, cut the dough in half and shape into oblongs. I flatten it out, then roll it up, starting at a short end. Roll and shape with your hands until it is oblong with tapered ends. Try to get the ‘skin’ taut and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with oil, cover and let rise until a bit less than double. (Depending on your weather anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour.)
20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Slash the loaves several times, ¼” deep. Pinch the ends gently to redefine the tapering. Brush with an egg glaze (an egg whisked in a bowl with a few drops of milk) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (I usually do this before slashing, but it’s not too important. I just like the look better.)
Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake another 25-30 minute or until at least 190 degrees and up to 200.
Take out and cool.
*tip: I put the loaves next to each other on the baking sheet. But they get so big they almost touch, and I know they are just going to get bigger in the oven. What to do? So I took some scissors and cut the parchment in half between them, carefully, and gently pulled them farther apart on the sheet. This gives them more room to grow and not touch, possibly merging.