Victoria Riddle sent me an excellent recipe which she generously agreed to share with us all. Victoria portrays a member of the Royalist 1st Regiment in a group of French and Indian War re-enactors, and has successfully made this bread both in a dutch oven while "on campaign" and in the comfort of her very own home kitchen. Thank you, Victoria!
Take 2 pkg of yeast and dissolve in 1/2 cup warm water. In a large bowl mix 5 cups hot water and 7 cups whole wheat (whole meal). (Rye flour may be substituted for the whole wheat/meal.) Stir in 2/3 cups vegetable oil, 2/3 cup honey OR brown sugar, 2 TB salt. To this add 2 cups of white bread flour and the yeast mixture...then add 2 more cups of the white flour.....By this time the dough mixture is too stiff to stir, so turn out on a floured board or counter and continue to add very small handfulls of flour as you knead dough, 'till dough becomes easy to knead and is not sticky. Continue kneading for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut dough in half, then in half again and form loaves to place in large greased loaf pans. ( If you have small sized ones, you can cut into 5 loaves) These also can be put in round cake pans. Place in UNHEATED oven to let rise for about 1 1/2 hours. If it is cold day, I have been known to turn on the oven set at 200 degrees F. and then turn it off as soon as a little heat gets in there!....then turn oven on to 350 degrees (gas mark 4) and bake for 35 to 45 minutes...test doneness by tapping on loaf and hear a "hollow" sound. When bread comes out of oven, put butter on top, and cover with a towel till cool.
- Victoria Riddle
Below, one of my favourite bread recipes, using both old and new world ingredients. Extra credit for capturing wild yeast.
This excellent recipe was adapted from "George Lang's Potato-Caraway Bread" in James Beard's Beard on Bread. I have added the semolina, which contributes to the wonderful texture, and greatly increased the amount of potato. This bread rises majestically, has an outstanding crunchy crust and hearty, moist crumb. It keeps in perfect condition for many days, and also freezes well.
3 large boiling potatoes, or enough
for about 3 cups mashed potatoes (I greatly prefer Yukon Gold to all others)
Boil the potatoes in their skins until tender, but do not drain. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of very warm water, and stir in the honey. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and set it in a warm dark place for a half-hour for the "sponge" to grow.
Spoon out the cooked potatoes and allow to cool, and reserve the potato boiling water and allow it to cool to very warm.
Peel and mash the cooling potatoes. When the yeast sponge is nice and foamy, stir in the mashed potatoes, two cups of the reserved potato-boiling water, (now cooled down to just quite warm), the cup of semolina, the salt, caraway seeds, and the flour, cup by cup, until the mixture is quite stiff. Turn out on a floured board and knead for 12 to 15 minutes, until, as James Beard puts it, the dough is "supple and elastic and has great life in it."
Oil the mixing bowl, place the dough ball in it, and then turn the ball over. Seal the bowl with plastic wrap and then cover with a dish towel, and return to that warm, dark place. Let rise until doubled, about 1 to 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, and knead about 3 minutes. Shape it into either one huge loaf or two smaller ones and prepare your baking pan(s) by coating them with oil and sprinkling with coarse corn meal (I fill a 14" diameter stainless steel saute pan with this dough, or two or three loaf pans). Cover with a dish towel, and allow to rise for about 40 minutes (it does not need to double in size). Bake in a hot oven (400 degrees F., gas mark 5) for one hour and twenty minutes for a single, huge loaf, or one hour for muliple smaller loaves. Turn out of baking pan and bake directly on oven rack for the final ten minutes, to ensure an even, crunchy crust. Cool throughly on a rack before slicing or storing. Enjoy!
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