Merce’s Weekly Bread
Merce is the partner of Felix. She works hard, as he does. They brought up 4 amazing children in the back of beyond near me that have become all successful in their own ways.
I have often mentioned or written about Felix, but here I want to talk about Merce. She is a considered person, as well as highly intelligent and emotional in equal parts. Her knowledge of the local medicinal plants is impressive, although she will only shrug her shoulders, saying “everyone knows these things. We were brought up with them”.
I have a big blog in progress re wild edible and medicinal plants around here. This takes time and will include Merce but for now I just want to talk about her bread, and in a later post her aioli. This surely must be the two staple foods of Spanish cuisine.
There will be no close-up photos of her beautiful intelligent face because that is Merce’s request. I understand as I too shy from the camera.
So here we go – I admit my translation is loose, but that is just make it crystal clear:
According to the amount of bread you want, mix 5 cups of tepid water, a pinch of salt and a block of live yeast. Then add normal wheat, and knead it until you have a pliable dough. If you like, add a spoon of olive oil.
Place the dough in a bowl covered with a cloth and let it rise for about 3 hours in the shade.
Now knead it a bit more until smooth and divide into whatever shapes you want as long as they are not too small. Score them diagonally. Place these on a floured surface so that so that they do not stick.
Light your oven and when it is about 230 centigrade, your dough will have risen a bit more, maybe even doubled which is perfect. If your oven comes quickly to temperature, light it a bit later so that the dough has time to complete its second rising.
Make sure you have a flat surface to cook your bread on in the oven. I say this because we have an original bread oven, a kind of hole in the wall, that is fired by wood in the adjacent fireplace. The stones are rather bumpy.
Slide your dough pieces carefully onto the flat surface in the oven, cooking in batches if not enough room. Bake it for about 20-30 minutes. You will just have to judge this yourself.
I made the week’s bread like this for years until our last child flew the nest. Now, I don’t know why, I lost the urge except when they come home and it’s a special occasion. Instead we buy the double fermented bread from the “panaderia” on the roundabout in Atzeneta – only sold on Saturdays. It is very good and sometimes enough is enough!
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Continually updating food images can be seen here