Waking up to an unexpected snowstorm was a surprise this morning. Even more surprising was how terrible the roads were! I know that the rest of the country does not understand why we panic at the sight of the first snow flake, but here in eastern North Carolina we are not equipped to handle snow for the most part. The roads were not pretreated and they were akin to the snowy hills we used to sled on as kids in PA. But, that said, work was not delayed or cancelled so I made my way towards the office like the good worker that I am, only to turn around in a nice loop and head back home. It took over an hour to get to work and over an hour to get home, slip-sliding the entire way. The roads were treacherous. The positive outcome in this snowy wonderland and a two plus hour drive roundtrip? I now have a free day to myself to do whatever strikes my fancy within the confines of my house. Yippee!!!
So what is a girl to do with all of this unplanned free time?!? Why bake fresh sourdough bread of course! This is a new skill I’m working on after taking a class with Lionel Vatinet owner of La Farm Bakery in Cary, NC. I love bread. As in how do I love thee, let me count the ways…I love bread. There, I’ve said it! Now you know one of my [many] weaknesses. Since I love bread so, I am practicing how to make delicious bread right in my own kitchen!
Lionel is French, as in French with a French accent and feisty personality. And he knows bread! I have sampled many different varieties of bread from his booth at the Raleigh Farmer’s Market in, where else, Raleigh. These tasty morsels are so delish they leave you wanting MORE. So to scratch the itch and satisfy my desire to bake such yummy goodness myself I decided to take a class and learn from the best!
The class was taught in Lionel’s home in Cary. The home is situated on a cul-de-sac in a nice neighborhood. From the street it looks like a normal home, brick, good size yard, a rather large house. Once you walk through the door, however, you feel as though you’ve stepped through a portal to a French seaside retreat. It is light and airy and the kitchen is, well, French. We all worked on our bread techniques jammed around a rather large butcher block center island. I have to admit, Lionel’s technique is different than what I am used to doing. It was so difficult and a hair frustrating! But the end result? De-lish!
Obviously, I need the practice and I’m looking rather thin. And who doesn’t love fresh, straight-from-the oven bread and buttah? Buttah = butter, and I love buttah. There, you made me say it. Yet another of my [many] weaknesses-no margarine girl here! In my effort to keep my weight up, or at least the reason I need to ride my bike every day, I knead up some country sourdough and let it rise and then proof until it is ready to bake in the oven. I tweaked the recipe a bit and added about ¼ cup of sugar and a bit of honey I bought from local beekeepers in West Jefferson, NC. I care for some honey, especially locally produced. But more on that subject another day.
While the bread was rising and doing its bread thing (very technical term for fermenting and proofing on account of the yeast) I was free to do other fun things like watch birds in the snow and chill on the sofa. This is a good day indeed!
All of this rising and proofing takes time, a few hours in fact, to complete. When it is done though, you prep the oven, score your bread and bake away! The bread rises in the oven and gradually turns a gorgeous russet brown. Once it’s ready you yank that sucker from the hot oven and get ready to slice away. In my eagerness to eat this hot, fresh, steamy bread I got down to business. Keep in mind that it is HOT. Don’t do what I did and grab it with your bare hands whilst you try to cut the slices, it will burn you. But that is what burn cream is for, right?!? The bread, with heaps of fresh butter on top, melted into my mouth. It was tangy and slightly sweet with a creamy, slightly salted butter melted into every nook and cranny. Sigh. It was worth the wait and worth passing up on a nap this afternoon. And a nap is really needed now after ingesting several pieces of bread and butter; a complete carb overload. <Yawn> I am so sleepy….
If you get a chance check out the La Farm Bakery website at https://www.lafarmbakery.com/ and Maple View Farm at http://mapleviewfarm.com/, they have the best milk products, butter, and ice cream! If you are looking for something to do I highly recommend visiting the Raleigh Farmer’s Market, La Farm Bakery in Cary, and Maple View Farm in Hillsborough, although maybe not on the same day….enjoy!