Ric Riccardo, a gentleman of some reknown in Chicago restaurant lore, once truly stated, “To duplicate a dish in the home is ofttimes to relive a particular experience that has carved deeply in our humble existence.”
The diplomatickitchen Menu: Alpine Dinner, to which this bread recipe serves as a prelude, is based on a memory of an evening high in the Swiss Alps in the little village of Sent and, in particular, of the dinner’s host. By day he ran a computer business; that night, he was a proud chef, bending over his pots and adjusting the flame over the one spitting sizzling droplets of water out onto the hot stove. With a smile on his face and a long handled wooden spoon in his hand, he poked at the pot’s contents, clearly pleased at what his labours wrought…which were a couple of long, cylindrical bread dumplings to go with his other specialty, a meat ragout.
This is the source of the diplomatickitchen’s Beef Ragout Val Gadena and Bread Dumplings–the post to follow this one. The Herb Bread which introduces the Alpine Dinner Menu is particularly well-suited to making the dumplings that accompany the ragout. (Click here for the diplomatickitchen’s recipe for the ragout and bread dumplings.)
After enjoying it as part of the Alpine dinner served to us by our host in his home, the dish began appearing now and again on our table for special occasions, including the birthday celebration of one family member who annually requested it, having retained the memory of how good it was the first time she had it one evening in Sent.
Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.
A Timing Note: Make the loaf a day or two in advance so that, once crumbled, it has time to dry before turning it into Bread Dumplings.
Ingredients: The closest metric equivalents for this American recipe are given in parentheses
- 2 and 3/4 cups of Unbleached White Flour (360 grams)
- 2 teaspoons of Instant Dry Yeast
- 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
- 1 teaspoon of Celery Seed
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoons of Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of Coarse Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons of any combination of Fresh Thyme Leaves, Sage Leaves and/or Rosemary….or a combination of Dried Leaves of Thyme, Sage and/or Rosemary
- 1/2 cup of Yellow Cornmeal or coarse Polenta (90 grams)
- 1/2 cup Onion, finely diced (80 grams)
- 2 Tablespoons of Butter, softened (43 grams), plus a little to grease the bowl in which the dough rises and the loaf pan
- 3/4 cup of Lukewarm Water (175 milliliters)
- 2 large Mixing Bowls
- a Pastry Board
- a 9-inch or 9 and 1/2-inch loaf pan (about 22 centimeters): The exact dimensions of the loaf pan are unimportant. A 9 and 1/2-inch pan is used for the photographed loaf. Adjust the baking time a little up or down according to your pan’s dimensions.
- a cotton Dishtowel
1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir them together to form a dough.
2. Knead the dough by hand in the bowl until it is compact and pliable and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl:
4. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a pastry board. Shape the dough into a log and place it in a loaf pan, greased with butter:
7. Remove the loaf from the oven and let it sit in the pan for a few minutes, then loosen its edges from the sides of the pan and turn it out onto a rack to cool.
8. The cooled loaf may be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for many days.
A Note: This Herb Bread is used to make Bread Dumplings in the subsequent diplomatickitchen post: Ragout of Beef Val Gadena with Bread Dumplings, the Main Course of the dinner menu: Alpine Dinner. The bread is adapted from one on the King Arthur Flour site.
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2013