When snow falls, bread eaters seem to have two reactions. One is to buy every loaf in sight. Another is to hole up at home and bake.
I have experienced both responses. On a recent afternoon when the entire state of Maryland was digging out from a heavy snow, I drove to the grocery store. Cars were parked everywhere, including places that, in sunnier times, were considered exits. Inside the store, the aisles were jammed, the bread shelves empty.
I'm not sure why we buy more bread when it snows. Maybe the snow brings out our long-suppressed craving for sandwiches. But bread-lust probably has more to do with the fact that being in the grocery store after a snow is such an unpleasant experience that we are likely to do bizarre things, such as grabbing six loaves of taste-free white bread, if we can avoid returning to the store.
After I got shut out at the bread aisle, I bought flour and yeast and went home to bake my own bread. I wasn't alone. I called a neighbor and he quickly said he couldn't talk because he was busy baking bread. A woman who lives up the street told me that her bread machine had been going nonstop.
Later, a friend called from Oregon. She had heard reports of a big snow hitting Maryland. She said that folks in Oregon, like Marylanders, get a craving for bread when it snows. She gave me a recipe for sesame seed bread made in a food processor.
I include the recipe here along with my adaptation of Charles van Over's recipe for bread made in a food processor. In a previous column I told readers who wanted van Over's recipe to write me. The requests have been so numerous that I decided to print the recipe. Next time the snow falls, you can turn on the oven instead of slogging to the store.
HOMEMADE SESAME SEED BREAD
From "Dungeness Crabs and Blackberry Cobblers," by Janie Hibler (Knopf, 1991, $23).
Yield: One 9-inch round loaf
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups flour
1 egg beaten
L 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted (black seeds if available)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Grease a 10-inch-by-15-inch baking sheet. Sprinkle the yeast over warm water until it dissolves. Put nonfat dry milk, sugar, table salt, olive oil and flour in bowl of food processor and pulse two or three times to blend. With machine running, slowly add water and yeast mixture and process until dough forms a mass. Continue to process for 1 more minute. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface, knead until smooth, adding more flour if necessary. Shape into 9-inch round loaf and place on baking sheet.
Cover loaf with plastic wrap and let rise in refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove loaf from refrigerator, brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and kosher salt. Bake until done, about 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Adaptation of Charles van Over's
Yield: 2 loaves
12 ounces (weighed) flour
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1-1 1/4 cups water, 55-60 degrees
1 teaspoon dry yeast
Weigh flour, put in food processor with steel blade. Add salt, process for 5 seconds.
With machine running, pour steady stream of 1 cup of water through processor feed tube. Process for 30-35 seconds. Dough ball should result. If dough is too wet, add tablespoon or two of flour and process for another 10-15 seconds. If dough is too dry, add remaining water and process for another 10-15 seconds.
Add yeast, process for another 15 seconds. Cover hands with flour, lift dough ball out of processor and put in a large bowl. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a dish towel. Let dough rise at room temperature. This takes a minimum of 1 1/2 hours.
When dough has risen, cover hands with flour and dust a counter top with flour. Put dough ball on counter top and cut into two equal balls. Let dough rest for 15-20 minutes.
Dust tablecloth lightly with flour. Working on tablecloth, press each dough ball flat, fold it over on itself, twice. You can then roll dough into long, snakelike baguettes, sealing seam, or you can simply form dough into round loaves. Place loaves in fold of cloth, cover and let rise until the loaves are about 1 1/2 times original size. This takes 1-2 hours at room temperature.
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Transfer loaves to lightly floured baking sheets. Make steam by spraying oven with water from spray bottle. Put loaves in oven. Spray again after five minutes. Bake at 450 degrees until crust is golden brown or internal temperature of bread is 210. This takes 25-40 minutes. Remove loaves, spray with water for shinier crust, cool on wire rack.