Monday, January 15, 2018

Safeway French Bread and Sirius, the Dog Star

During the past months our southern neighbours have been in a tizzy over the various things that their president, Donald Trump, has been saying and doing.
Well, here in Canada we’ve have a bit of bad news to deal with, too.

Last December Loblaw Co., and its parent company George Weston Ltd., confirmed that they had told the Competition Bureau about an alleged industry-wide bread price-fixing scheme that had lasted from 2001 to 2015. 
In other words, for 14 years grocery retailers have been coordinating bread price increases.
Some estimate that Loblaw alone got $1 billion in extra profit from the bread price-fixing.

Canadians have a reputation for being calm, polite folks.
Yeah, well, that only goes so far and nobody here is calm about having been robbed every time he or she bought a loaf of bread.
We’re not talking booze or cigarettes, an optional item that one should cut back on buying anyway.
Bread’s a basic, the staff of life, the thing we need to make the kids’ lunch sandwiches.

Some folks have gone so far as to swear off buying bread.
We folks of a certain age can remember when we were big on making things ourselves.
Ah, the seventies, when we made our own candles, yogurt, pasta and bread.
We did it then and we can do it now!

I got an email asking if I had the French bread recipe that was on the Safeway all purpose flour bag.
Of course I do.
I’ve got my method in the hints section, since I don’t use my mixer for bread making.
Suit yourself.

If Italian is more your thing, here’s the recipe for Ma’s crusty Italian bread.
And for the kiddies’ lunches, here’s Ma’s recipe for white bread.


This is how I adapted Safeway’s recipe to do it by hand:

Makes 2 loaves

Grease 2 baking sheets or 1 large sheet
Sprinkle pan(s) lightly with corn meal  

Place in a small bowl
2 1/2 Cups warm water (about 120ºF) 
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast
Let stand about 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve.

While the yeast mixture is standing, place in a large bowl 
3 Cups flour
After the yeast mixture has been allowed to stand 5 minutes add it to the flour.
1 Tablespoon oil
Stir to combine well.
Stir in 
2 1/2 Cups flour
1 Tablespoon salt
Stir until a soft dough has formed.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface.
Knead in
About 1 - 1 1/2 Cups flour
Knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl.
Turn to cover all sides.

Cover and let rise in a warm place, about 1 1/2 hours.
It should be about doubled in bulk.
Punch down the dough and let rest 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface.
Cut it into 2 even pieces.
Roll one piece into a rectangle, about 10 x 15 inches.
Starting on a long side, roll up tightly, pressing dough at each turn.
Pinch the ends and loose edge to seal.
Roll ends between hands to taper them and tuck under.
Place diagonally, seam side down, on prepared pan.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

In a measuring cup combine
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water

With a sharp knife, lightly gash tops diagonally every 2 1/2 inches. 
Brush with the egg white mixture.
Cover, let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. 
Brush again with egg white mixture.

Preheat oven 375ºF
Bake for 20 minutes, then brush loaves again with egg white mixture.
Bake 20 minutes longer.
Remove loaves from sheets, cool on wire racks.

                        Safeway French Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Grease 2 baking sheets or 1 large sheet
Sprinkle pan(s) lightly with corn meal        

In a large mixer bowl combine
3 Cups flour
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

2 1/2 Cups warm water 
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon shortening
just until warm (45º-50º C / 115º-120º F), stirring constantly until shortening almost melts. Add to flour and yeast mixture and beat at low speed of electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.

By hand stir in enough flour to make a soft dough (approximately 2 1/2 cups).
Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and gradually knead rest of flour (approximately 1 cup) into dough until dough is smooth and satiny (about 10 minutes). Do not under knead. Shape into ball.

Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface.
Cover and let rise in a warm place 25ºC (80ºF) until double, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down; divide in half. 
Cover and let rest 10 minutes.

Roll each half into a 38 x 30 cm rectangle.
Starting with long edge, roll up tightly, seal well.
Taper ends and tuck under.

Place each loaf diagonally, seam down, on prepared baking sheet(s).
Gash tops diagonally every 6 cm, 1/4 to 1/2 cm deep.
Brush with egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water.
Cover, let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. 
Brush with egg white mixture and sprinkle sesame seed (optional) on top of each loaf.

Bake in 190ºC (375ºF) oven for 20 minutes, then brush again with egg white.
Bake 20 minutes longer.
Remove loaves from sheets, cool on wire racks.

About the sky, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

January 15 - This week the star Mira — the first-ever variable star to be discovered — is expected to peak at its maximum brightness.

January 16 - New Moon at 7:07 p.m. In this phase, the Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye.

January 22 - The brightest of all stars shines prominently this week at around 10:30 p.m. local time over toward the south. Sirius, the “Dog Star,” is the brightest star of the constellation which bears the Latin name Canis Major — the Greater Dog.

January 24 - First Quarter Moon at 5:20 p.m. In this phase, the Moon looks like a half-Moon in the sky.

1 comment:

  1. Lucky you ... down here south of your border we have to deal with horrendous cruelty of our government to innocent people (even children); with rash and irresponsible provocations that could lead to nuclear war; and with general and deep incompetence at the highest levels of government. Not to mention moral failings of our leader. And more. I'd trade over-priced bread for this in a heartbeat!

    best... mae at


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