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A Tasty Trip to the Western Pyrenees

An NPR article featuring a newly-published cookbook about Basque sheepherders inspired a dinner late last Spring. Before dinner the boys and I talked about the geography of the region, the sheepherders, and why they cooked they way they did. Then we feasted on a Basque torta, lamb stew, and flan.

The recipe read: "Makes one very large loaf." You can say that again. It continued: "You will need a helper." Thankfully, I have three helpers. Here's the monstrous sheepherder's bread I baked.

Source: From the Sheep Camp to the Kitchen, Volume II

3 cups very hot tap water
1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. salt
2 packages active dry yeast
9 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Salad oil

In a large bowl, combine hot water, butter, sugar and salt. Stir until butter is melted; let cool to about 110 degrees. Stir in yeast; cover and set in a warm place until bubbly, about 15 minutes. Beat in about 5 cups flour to make a thick batter. Stir in about 3 1/2 cups more flour to make a stiff dough. Scrape dough onto a floured board. Knead until smooth and satiny, 10 to 20 minutes — adding as little flour as possible to prevent sticking. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn over to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled — about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down and knead briefly on a floured board to release air. Shape into a smooth ball. With a circle of foil, cover the inside bottom of a 5-quart cast iron or cast aluminum Dutch oven. Grease foil, inside of Dutch oven, and lid with oil. Place dough in Dutch oven and cover with lid. Let rise in a warm place until dough pushes up lid by about 1/2 inch, about 1 hour. (Watch closely.) Bake, covered, with a lid in a 375-degree oven for 12 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove bread from oven and turn onto a rack to cool. You will need a helper. Peel off foil and turn loaf upright. Makes one very large loaf.

Comments

  1. I can't wait to try this recipe! Thanks Camilla!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This bread sounds delicious. I'm going to try it in a very large cast iron Dutch oven. I just know its going to work. :)

    ReplyDelete

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