03 June 2014

Gruyère and Walnut Bread and a Eulogy




The past week has been a whirl of activity. I spent three wonderful days with women from the quilt guild that I belong to, working on projects and sharing tips and techniques for making piecing easier. I learned how to make fabric stars for simple ornaments, how to cut perfect half-triangle squares, and a ton of other neat tips. Coming away from the retreat, I had a gorgeous pile of pinwheel blocks that will be make my next twin bed sized quilt. The fabrics are all inspired by Civil War era cotton muslin and shirting fabric prints. Pretty, huh?



When I got home from my little junket, I was still thinking about 1/4 inch cuts and so I made Silent Bob a loaf of this wonderful savory cheese and nut bread. I haven't baked much of late, so a treat for him and a piece of toast for me was appealing. There is something very comforting about mixing one's own bread dough.



It eased the time, as I was waiting to hear how my poor old Dad was doing. He'd taken a bad fall and was operated on for a hip fracture. UGH ... of course this was traumatic for the old bear. Pop failed spectacularly, pushing off nurses, ripping at heart monitors and IV's and finally making it very clear that he was fed up with life and was ready to go out on his own terms. And so, after a few days of wrangling, medical complications, and soul-searching phone texts, we arranged for him to be made as comfortable as possible, gathered to reminisce with him one last time and ease him on his way into the mystic. Dad passed away yesterday morning. An era has passed- one more of the greatest generation lost. He was such a good man, a stellar father, and a good solid citizen and I love him dearly. Sigh ...



Last evening, I came home to lick the wounds and grieve and today, I made toast and coffee and looked at photo albums and listened to some of Dad's favorite big band music and country greats. I feel better already. My Dad's nickname was 'Bing' because he resembled Bing Crosby and could croon like him too. He could whistle incredibly well and always warbled a tune or mimicked the bird calls around the yard. He was a cheerful guy who was the life of the party and the check-out line at the store, a fixer-upper around the house, and always ready to help his kids if they had a household issue or car problems. He loved his outdoor sports and life and was an involved Dad when it came to skiing, archery, fishing, boating, camping, back yard gardening and family get-away vacations. All five of us kids have incredibly fond memories of our family jaunts, vegetable gardening and picnics. Golly, what WILL we do without him? He sure does leave a glaring hole in the fabric of our family life! Sigh ...

Strange post, I know ... bread and a eulogy. Dad would probably laugh and tell me to make him a ham and cheese sandwich with this bread ... " and slap a good dose of Medford's mustard on too!" Ha! The old bear liked his groceries!

Rest in peace, Pop! I hope there's good eats wherever you've thrown down your anchor!




Gruyère and Walnut Bread

Makes 1 – 9 inch round loaf

Ingredients:

3 ¼ c. bread flour
1 ½ tsp. sugar plus a pinch
1 ¼ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter, cut into four chunks
1 c. milk, scalded
A scant cup of warm water (109 ° F)
1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast granules
1 c. cubed Gruyère cheese
1 c. chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
1 tsp. black pepper

Making the Bread:

  1. Scald the milk and then add the butter cubes to it, letting the butter melt and the milk cool to a tepid temperature (109° F).
  2. While the milk and  butter cools, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt measure in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix the warm water, yeast measure, and pinch of sugar. Let the yeast proof for ten minutes.
  4. When the liquids are at the right temperature and the yeast has bubbled, combin with the flour mix, mixing to make a sticky dough. Using a dough hook, mix/knead the dough ball for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl’s sides and bring any loose flour under the dough ball up onto the dough.
  5. Add the prepared cheese cubes, the black pepper, and the walnuts and continue mix/knead for another 2 minutes.
  6. Grease/oil a deep bread bowl, turn the kneaded dough ball into the bowl and turn it to coat with oil.
  7. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place for a little over an hour.
  8. Gently deflate the dough and form a dough ball.
  9. Place in a greased round cake pan or casserole that is at least 1 ½ inches deep.
  10. Cover and let rise until doubled.
  11. While the dough rises, place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 ° F
  12. When the dough has double, use a razor blade or very sharp knife to score an ‘x’ in the top of the loaf. Sprinkle with flour and place in the preheated oven on the pizza stone.
  13. Immediately lower the oven temperature to 400° F and bake the bread for about 45 minutes.
  14. Cover the bread during the second half of the bake time, if the bread browns too much for your taste.
  15. When the bread sounds hollow when rapped, remove it from the oven, turn it out of its pan and onto a cooling rack.
  16. Let the bread cool before slicing.

Note: A nice savory bread that is excellent for toasting or for sandwich or bruschetta type snacking.

10 comments:

  1. I'm so sad to hear about your father. As you know, I understand what you're going through. How wonderful of you and your family to honor his wishes and let him go in peace. There is a lot of comfort in bread making. You may have to prepare another loaf. This one looks delicious--I love Gruyere, so I'll be trying this recipe in the future! Take care.

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  2. May you be comforted knowing that you let him do it his way! Peace be with you!

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  3. i'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your dad with us. I think the combination of a eulogy and a bread recipe makes perfect sense and i think your dad would agree. I hope he is "enjoying" his ham sandwich with mustard on this bread where ever his anchor has been thrown. Peace to you all.

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  4. A beautiful and fitting eulogy Susan. And yes he would laugh. I don't remember ever seeing him that he wasn't at least smiling. Sending both you and your mom a huge hug.

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  5. Such a beautifully perfect blog post and a tribute to loaves and fathers everywhere... I'm so terribly sorry for your loss and my heart reaches out across the ocean to you... Now all I can think of is toasting that gorgeous bread and eating a ham sandwich! Xx

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    1. Ha! Pop would love sitting and sharing a sandwich with you, Dom ! He was such a sociable guy who always loved shooting the breeze with my friends.

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  6. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad Susan. His strong spirit lives on in you.

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  7. Oh Susan, I'm so very sorry for your loss. Grief is strange & I'm sure making that bread gave you some relief from the stress of the past few days. I'm going to buy some of that mustard in honor of your dad! My dad enjoyed ham & cheese sandwiches too, but he'd tell me to slap some butter under the mustard first!

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  8. Awwwww.... Susan, such nice thoughts of your dad. Wish we could get together for one of the ham sandwiches tomorrow and reminisce about our dads.

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  9. Oh Susan, I'm so sorry for the loss of your beloved father. Mary from Ocean Breezes told me. I wish I had been better at blogging lately, I would have known sooner. Losing a parent is tough. It seems once they get to a certain age and break something it's all down hill. You are in my prayers!

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