Michael and the boys went to the park yesterday afternoon to enjoy the beautiful sunshine, giving me some time while the baby slept to take care of a few household chores such as laundry and cleaning up the kitchen. In case you didn't know, the life of a stay-at-home mom can be oh-so glamorous.
One of my favorite articles on Yogajournal.com is about the impermanence of life. In "After the Laundry, the Laundry," author Judith Lasater writes about how we do the dishes and then later we come back and there are more dishes to wash. We wash, fold, and put away laundry, and later there is more laundry to do. The basket doesn't stay empty and the kitchen, bathrooms, and floors do not stay clean. I could continue to clean and clean and clean, and the work would never be done because it's part of the cycle of life. The cycle continuously repeats, and at times it can feel quite daunting. So what do I do when I feel overwhelmed by the daily drudge of housework? I either do asanas or I bake bread, or both.
Yesterday's baking therapy was a quick Cuban bread from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen. I dubbed it "quick" because this one is made in just a few hours without a starter. It's a departure from traditional Cuban bread recipes which have oil, lard, or shortening in them. The crust is crispy and the interior is chewy, but still soft, and it makes a good sandwich or toasting bread.
The recipe makes two medium loaves, but the bread doesn't keep for more than a day or two, so plan to use it soon after you bake it.
stand mixer with dough hook
large bowl for rising the dough, lightly coated with cooking spray
half sheet baking pan
2 teaspoons instant yeast, or 1 package active dry yeast (see Variations)
6 to 7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur brand.)
1-1/4 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 cups warm water, not boiling hot
coarse corn meal
4 to 5 cups boiling water
1. In the bowl of the stand mixer, stir together the yeast, 3 cups of flour, salt, and sugar. Add the warm water and mix on low speed until the flour mixture is completely wet.
2. Continue adding flour 1 cup at a time and mixing until the dough is very stiff, but not dry.
3. Shape the dough into a ball and put into the prepared large bowl. Lightly spray the top of the dough with cooking spray and cover with a towel. Put in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
4. Remove from oven and turn the dough out onto a floured board. Divide into two pieces and shape into two long, French-style loaves or round, Italian-style loaves.
5. Spread coarse meal over the baking pan and place the loaves on the pan. Cover with a towel and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
6. Slash the tops of the loaves in 2 or 3 places and spritz some water over the tops of them. Place in a cold oven and put a casserole pan filled with boiling water in the bottom. Turn on the oven and set for 400° F. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before slicing.