Today I made an easy French bread recipe for Lughnasadh. Dee had a ritual with a potluck. Lughnasadh is a festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Originally it was held on the first of August, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. However, over time the celebrations shifted to the Sundays nearest this date. Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals; along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Calan Awst and the English Lammas.
Mmmmmm.. what’s that smell? Could this glorious smell really be coming from my kitchen? There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. We gravitate towards it when we pass a bakery or feel the fresh warm bread just out of the oven at the grocery store. “But, Malice…” you say, “I can’t make bread!” Sure you can! Not only is it better tasting, it is better for you.
When you make food for yourself or your family, you know what goes into it and what you are eating. Baking your own bread is something you can do, it is not that difficult and you will never go back to store bought bread again.
Let’s get started!
This makes 4 loaves of bread:
4 cups water – lukewarm
½ cup sugar
4 T dry yeast
4 T oil
1 T salt
Lots of flour – I used around 8 cups for these loaves
(T = tablespoon)
At this point, add the salt and the oil
Flour your board, or counter or whatever you are going to use to knead the dough. This dough doesn’t need a lot of kneading, just a minute or so until it is smooth and not sticky
Put the dough in an oiled bowl, turn it over a few times to coat the dough with oil
Make sure the bowl is big enough, you want the dough to double in size. This bowl is not big enough and the dough will spill out of the bowl!
This is more like it!
Here is a tip to create your own “proofing oven” using your regular oven. Turn the oven on and start a timer for 60 seconds. When the timer goes off, turn off your oven. This warms up the air inside the oven and creates a warm space to rise you dough. Please remember to turn off your oven! Some people like to put the bowl in the oven with just the light on. Either way, you want a draft free warm place to rise the dough.
Let it double in size. This takes about an hour or so.
Deflate the dough by pushing on the dough.
Divide the dough into 4 parts. (I decided to make a bigger loaf out of half and divided the other half into two loaves) I made a braid loaf – divide into 3 sections and take the one on the left, place it over the center and then the right side over the new center.
until it looks like this
Starting with a cold oven, place the loaves in the oven. DO NOT PREHEAT YOUR OVEN. Place the loaves in the oven and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Loaves are done when they sound hollow when you thump them with your thumb.
Serve with butter and homemade jam!