Let’s make faery bread.
Here’s why we are making faery bread today. We are in the process of trying to find a new Home. When I think of Home, the first thing that comes to mind is my mother pounding away on the dough of a loaf of homemade bread. Making bread was her therapy, not to mention everyone in the family loved it. From the smell that invaded every corner of the house, to the melt in your mouth sinfulness as fresh from the oven slathered with butter slabs of bread hit your tongue.
I invoke the goddess Hestia with every meal I cook, even if it is to throw a can of soup in a bowl and stick it in the microwave. I am a Hearth-Crafter. I prefer to make my meals from scratch, even when it seems there is not enough time for a full-blown ‘to do’. My children, as yet, have no appreciation for the things I love to cook and to eat. I love to bake. I love to make chili. I love to make thick rich stews and traditional soups. I even love to pan fry potatoes and serve them up with every meal you can think of, just as my grandmother always used to do.
Today, as we invite the goddess Hestia to sit with us, to help us as we seek a new abode, as we give thanks to all Her blessings that have touched us thus far in our journey through life, we make the one thing that always makes me think of family, that everyone in my family will eat without griping or argument or quarrel, other than to make sure they get their fair share of things. That alone is worth making my own bread.
Now, usually I use a bread-maker to make my bread. Technically, I use two bread-makers at the same time, because bread goes that fast around here when I make it. This recipe can be converted to a non-machine recipe. I will tell you how at the end of the bread machine version.
First, the ingredients.
When I was a young girl, I asked my mother how she made her bread. She frustrated and stymied me by saying she’d been making bread for so long she just knew. There were no measurements for what she did. There was flour and sugar and water and yeast and salt. There was nothing for me to follow, except the flow of her hands and arms as she kneaded away. I learned to cook and to bake and to make bread from books. Although the desire to be as good as my mother and to never need a cookbook always spurred me on, and still does to this day.
Here we are in a place where I sort of do the same thing now as my mother when it comes to a basic white bread. Although I will do my best to give you more guidance.
You will need 1-1/2 cups of lukewarm, body temperature water. The kind of water that when it hits the skin of the inside of your wrist, you barely feel it, or it might be just a little bit warmer than your skin. About the same temperature as a baby’s bottle before you feed the baby. Depending on your room, since it is summer here and is almost too hot for me to say this, room temperature is normally good. We have also made rose tea and used the tea in place of water. Any flowery tea works well here and only adds to the faery aspect of the bread. Chrysanthemum tea. Jasmine tea. Feel free to experiment.
You will also need a tablespoon or two of sugar. It can be white sugar or brown sugar. We’ve used cubed sugar, cane sugar, even confectioners sugar one time-although I don’t remember why now. Probably at the behest of one child or the other, just to see what would happen.
Roughly two tablespoons of olive oil.
Roughly a teaspoon of salt.
Lavender or other derivative of any and all flowers. Before I had children, I would use rose petals, frequently from my own garden, which I processed in the food processor before adding to my dough. If using dried lavender, I normally use about three tablespoons. These days, with my children, I use lavender supplements. I take three capsules, empty the powder into the machine, and toss the gelatin capsules away. Although we have done it, with children helping, where you simply throw in three capsules as is and walk away. That turned out fine too.
I also have a bottle of ‘lavender spirits’ which is a blend of lavender oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil, and so on. It is a tincture. I usually use 30 or so drops of this when I use it to make bread. I try not to mix tinctures with dried herbs or fresh herbs. I try to stick with one or the other, rather than combining them. But please feel free to experiment.
Roughly four cups of plain white flour. You can mix this up by doing half wheat, half white, or any other number of combinations with different flours. So long as there is about four cups all together, you should be good.
I have a daughter who will not touch a piece of bread if she can see anything in it…not a seed, not a speck, not anything that looks ‘un’bread-like’, like oats dappling the crust or flax seeds in the bread itself. So, lately I tend to use white flour—although when I get the chance I prefer oat flour mixed with the white. I love to use flax, but it has to be ground into a flour too before I can use it with my daughter. Think outside the box with your flour combinations. Do keep in mind, different types of flour have different qualities. Some flours are heavier than others and produce a weightier loaf of bread.
Roughly a teaspoon and a half of yeast.
If you are using a machine, dump everything into your machine in the order stated: water, sugar, oil, herbs/flowers, salt, flour, yeast.
If you want your machine to do all the work, set it on your favorite basic setting Light, medium, dark-we usually use medium ourselves, so my daughter is sure where the crust starts and stops. She is not a crust eater either. At least, not usually. If you are using wheat flour, or anything that needs a different setting, please do what is best for that flour. My machine has wheat settings, so that makes it easy for me.
If you want to do some of the work, which I do fairly frequently, you set your machine to the dough cycle and let it go. Once your machine beeps, you pull it out, knead it, punch it down, all that happy stuff. Grease your bread baking containers and go to town. Sometimes I will braid the bread. Sometimes I will make long thin loaves, like baguettes or thicker Italian loaves. Sometimes I make round loaves. It depends on the mood. You have to cover and let these loaves rise until nearly double in size before baking. Anywhere from an hour to two hours, depending on your flour and technique and everything else. Then you put that into an oven at 350 degrees F for roughly an hour. This is for white flour bread. You may need to bake it longer—or maybe even for less time—depending on your flours used. Or not. Keep an eye on it as it bakes. Bread is done when you knock on it and it sounds hollow inside. Although with different flours, you still need to be careful, because that doesn’t always work.
If you want to do everything yourself?
Combine the water and the sugar and stir. Add the yeast and let it bubble. Add flour, oil, salt, herbs/flowers into a big bowl. Add the water/sugar/yeast mixture. Combine. By hand here is usually best for me, but it is not the only way to do it either.
Here is a note for everyone though: keep an eye on your dough. It should be slightly tacky to the touch and have a satiny smooth appearance by the time you are done combining all the basic ingredients. I tend to hover over my machine to make sure the consistency is correct. Add more flour if you need to – or add more water. Water it takes to make the dough work for you. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Once that is achieved, set your dough in a large bowl and cover it. If the space is slightly warm, that’s good. Once that has double in bulk, anywhere from an hour to two, depending on various factors, dump it out onto your work area and knead the dough down. You can separate this into two loaves, or more, or less, or braid it or twist it or whatever you want. See the above directions for baking. A 350 degree F oven for roughly an hour, depending on the flours you used.
My daughter loves to have her bread, as hot from the oven or machine as she can get it. Real butter or margarine dripping all over the place. We have some lavender honey here, which my daughter finds most fascinating. I will eat the honey on my bread. She prefers to eat hers with a spoon from a bowl. We like to have tea with our bread. If you used flowery tea to make the bread, sipping a cup of the same stuff while nibbling your bread is lovely. We always set some of the bread, with butter and honey, outside on a plate for the faeries to come partake. This does include a small saucer of sweetened tea as well.
If I have been unclear, or if I have left out any information, please contact me and I will correct things immediately. Thank you.
by Tabitha Kietero
Serpentine Road Travels: http://kofthemists.wordpress.com/
Hestia’s Hearth: http://ravensinthewritingdesk.wordpress.com/