My First visit to Greece was when I was seven years old and I remember everything like it was yesterday. It was so exciting to see this foreign land my parents spoke of so fondly in stories of their childhood memories.
Upon arriving I was immediately immersed into their storybook life, enamored by the cobblestone streets, stone mason buildings, farm land and animals. We harvested the olives, milked the goats and on occasion rode the very temperamental donkey. My most cherished memories are of my grandmother; Yia Yia Angelikoula and how she began her daily ritual creating generous feasts for us.
I loved my grandparent’s house with its pure white walls and bright blue trim sitting at the peak of the hill. At the rooftop terrace with its sprawling grapevines offering shade to our afternoon siestas while watching the Ionian Sea views as a mesmerizing lullaby.
Inside the house the floors were lined with old wooden planks that my grandfather made and stone carved stairs painted in a chalky white that would leave residue on your bare feet. At the foot of the stairs lied that magical charred brick oven where my grandmother produced banquets that would anoint us with our daily bread.
Here I learned to make bread along with my Yia Yia Angelikoula, my mother, my sister and cousins.
We gathered together each taking part in the sacrament of making and breaking bread.
Rustic Village Bread
350 – 45 minutes – loaf pan or circular cake pan. Makes 2 loaves
Here’s what you’ll need… 2 – 10 x 5 Bread pans, Oven Temp: 350 degrees, Bake time: 45 minutes. This recipe makes approximately 2 loaves of bread.
5 – Cups of Flour (overflowing)
3 – Cups of Warm Water
1 ½ – Table spoon of Dry Yeast
1 – Teaspoon salt
¼ – Cup of Olive Oil
In a bowl add yeast and warm water mixing well until yeast has completely dissolved. Mix the salt with flour and add to water mixture.
Begin kneading using the heels of your hands pushing down on the dough with your hands. Fold and turn the dough while kneading adding the olive oil until dough no longer clings to hands. When you have reached this consistency of no sticking – your dough is ready to be set aside to rise.
Place in a bowl and keep in a warm spot at room temperature keeping covered with a cloth during the entire rising time. Dough rising is based on temperature and time can vary from 1, 2 or even 3 hours to rise. Your dough should have double in size is when it’s ready.
Knead the dough once again, then separate in half and put into two loaves – you can use any baking pan rectangular or circle – cover and let raise double its size again for approximately one hour. Place in oven at 350 for 45 minutes until bread has a golden shade.