Dona Lisete's soft white bread.



Last Winter I made a tour walking by the borders of the canyons between Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, do you remember? I'm sure I have talked about it in some post.
In the daytime we walked and saw pretty things, and each night we slept in one different farm-hostel.
It was pretty cold, something around 6oC, and very humid. But with the constant movement of walking  we didn't even get to feel cold. And the air was delicious, so fresh and clean.
The last place we slept at before going back home was Pousada do Morro da Cruizinha.
Like the other hostels, this one was very simple, and the people who received us were very welcoming.
In the morning, before leaving, we had a breakfast all based in wheat flour:
there were several kinds of cookies, cake, cuca (or kuchen, if you will. A kind of sweet bread, heritage from the German immigrants in Southern Brazil), and a bread you can only eat in Rio Grande do Sul.
At first sight, there's nothing extraordinary about it - it's just a white sandwich bread.
But it is so homey! It's a very soft white sandwich bread, with this nice brown top, delicate flavor, and a delicious texture.
It would win anybody's heart. Then I, a sucker for breads, was definitely in love.
There was no way out: I asked for the recipe.
People told me that this bread is prepared by Lisete who, by the way, prepares other titbits that were around, all of them baked in the wood oven.
I felt shy, so I didn't take pictures of her nor of the bread. I was sure they would think it was some sort of weirdness that attacks girls living in big cities.
But if any of you feel like taking a look in person, at the end of the post I will leave the link to the website of the company which guided us in the tour.
When I asked for the recipe, Dona Lisete assumed that "Hum, how do I explain that?" look.
I think that preparing bread is for her something like brushing your teeth, you don't have to think - you just do it.
Even so, she explained it to me as follows:

1kg (8 1/3 cups) all purpose flour*
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
Lukewarm milk or water
(Cup measure: 240ml)

I poured the flour like a hill on the counter, opened a hole in it's center, and there I put the sugar, salt and yeast.

Little by little I added water, working from the center out, until the dough would stop sticking to my hands, but was still firm.
I observed that generally I use around 550ml of liquid in this recipe.
From the moment when the dough came off my hands, I kneaded for 10 minutes more.
I would have loved to see how does Dona Lisete knead the bread, but I lost the opportunity.
So I just did it the way I learned from my grandma, which consists in pushing the dough across the counter with the heel of one hand, while holding it's tip with the other hand.
Then the hand that has pushed the dough brings it back, rolling. You place this log of dough perpendicular to your body, stretch it again etc etc etc.
Probably the pictures will make it clearer (I hope so).

When I finished kneading, the dough was smooth, fluffy and firm.
Then I opened it as a rectangle and rolled up tightly like a log cake, let it rise until doubled in volume, already in the greased pan.
Since the bread pans I own are small, this recipe yielded two small breads, but Miss Lisete used this recipe to bake one large bread.

Generally I place my breads to rise in a place far from wind, inside a plastic bag, cover them with a tea towel and leave on top of a hot water bottle for about one hour.
If instead of the hot water bottle they can rise under sunlight, even better. (Lucky people who have access to wood stoves may leave them near it to rise).

After that, I baked my bread in preheated oven at 200oC (medium-high temperature) for 40 minutes.
And I like to leave it 3 minutes more over high heat to make the crust  darken.
The pair of breads in the first picture of the post was brushed with butter just as I took them out of the oven, that's why they are glossy.
The next two pictures are of a bread I was able to bake in a wood stove. I didn't brush anything at all, and it's got that lovely crust just because it was baked in the fire.

* I have also tested a version including wholewheat flour: instead of 1kg all purpose flour, I used 600g all purpose (5 cups) plus 400g wholewheat flour (2 2/3 cups). The picture of this version is the one before the jump, the bread slices served on a dish.

And if you feel like hiking in the Brazilian canyons:

PS: take one minute to tell me what you think about this blog. Just one minute, really.
In this link. Thank you all!

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