Marilyn Geiger takes her work with Extension and Community Association (ECA) seriously. So seriously that she got up at 6:30 a.m. to prep a bread demonstration for Thursday’s meeting of the Pilot Mountain Achievers Club, where she is president.
More impressively, she convinced her husband, Dan Geiger, to get up at 5:30 a.m. to mix the first batch of dough so that when ECA club members arrived at Heartland Homestead, as the Geiger’s home is known, they would be greeted with the aroma of baking bread wafting through the house.
The Geiger’s tag team approach, along with some careful planning, made it possible to demonstrate every aspect of artisan bread making within the span of a club meeting.
As club members arrived, the first batch of bread, which Dan Geiger had started long before dawn, was coming out of the oven. While it cooled a bit, Marilyn Geiger demonstrated the making of the artisan dough and gave a few tips that she and her husband have learned.
A silicon pad makes an easy-clean work area when sprinkled with flour, “lots and lots of flour,” according to Marilyn Geiger. Reusable parchment, marketed as “Super Parchment,” can be cut to fit pans and then reused many times for non-stick baking. The Geiger’s use Himalayan sea salt for baking and recommend a flat edged wooden spoon to stir the dough because it gets up into the corners of the bowl where dry flour likes to hide.
The best tip of all is a real time-saver; wash out dough mixing containers with cold water, never hot. The flour and dough comes right out. “Hot water would have made this a gooey mess,” said Marilyn Geiger as her dough mixing container quickly rinsed clean with cold water.
The Geiger’s prefer making their bread in loaf pans as it can then be used for sandwiches or toast. Also, they have not had good results with using a wooden peel to put loaves directly in the oven.
Marilyn Geiger gave this caveat to her fellow ECA members, “You know how you never try a new recipe when you have company. Well, you’re family.” She then stepped out of her comfort zone and formed two round loaves, or boulés.
While the boulés were rising, the first loaves were cool enough to slice and the club members enjoyed fresh bread with honey, coconut oil and blueberry jam as well as specialty apple butter provided by Margaret Rakes. Dan Geiger provided another tip about bread slicing. It’s easiest when the loaf is completely cool. Then it can be sliced thinly and evenly. The sliced bread can then be microwaved in a cloth tortilla warmer to make it taste fresh from the oven.
While the boulés finished rising and baking, Dan Geiger gave a demonstration on making vanilla extract at home. “It may not be less expensive than store bought, but you know exactly what is in it.”
By the time the Pilot Mountain Achievers finished their business meeting, with any luck, two fresh, hot boulés were ready to come out of the oven.
Shared by Dan and Marilyn Geiger. The Geiger’s bread making method is adapted from the book “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.
In a 5-quart bowl, or preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic or food grade bucket, put:
3 cups lukewarm water (about 100°F.)
1 1/2 tbsp. yeast (1 1/2 packets)
2 tsp. kosher or coarse salt (Don’t worry about getting it to dissolve.)
Mix in all flour at once; Kneading is unnecessary.
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour— measured with “scoop and sweep” method— don’t press down into flour as you scoop.
Mix with a wooden spoon or use a large size device with dough hook until the mixture is uniformly moist with no dry patches The dough will be wet and loose and conform to the shape of the container.
Allow to rise about 2 hours: Cover with lid — not airtight. Allow the mixture to rise until it either begins to collapse on itself or at least begins to flatten on top.
Option: The first time you make the recipe, after rising, refrigerating the dough for 3 or more hours or overnight will make it easier to work with.
Pour on a floured non-stick sheet and divide in half.
Place half in each of two greased bread pans
Option: Good luck if you want to try a pizza peel. Cornmeal will also be needed.
Let rise for 20 minutes. Turn on oven to 450°F. and let rise for 20 minutes more while oven preheats. Place the pans in the oven, then pour 1 cup of hot water into a pan already in the oven and close oven door quickly. Steam will make the bread crusty.
Bake 30 minutes until browned. Remove from oven and after 10 minutes, remove loaves from pans.
Homemade Vanilla Extract
This recipe makes 1 quart of vanilla extract
1/4 – pound Grade B Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans
1 quart of inexpensive 70-90 proof vodka
– Chop beans into 1/2 inch pieces and put into a glass jar.
– Add 1 quart of vodka, place a cap on the jar and shake.
-Place jar in a warm, dark place and shake jar daily for a month (longer for stronger flavor) – Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain liquid into another jar.
Use the strained pods as a room freshener.
Note: One can substitute 70-90 proof rum in lieu of vodka.
Good source for vanilla beans https //www beanilla corn/vanilla/vanilla-beans
Shared by Marilyn Ring Geiger
(A 4-H recipe from her teen years)
1 package yeast
¼ cup lukewarm water
2 ¼ cups hot milk
¼ cup sugar
2 ½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg beaten
7 cups flour
Soften the yeast in the lukewarm water. Measure sugar, salt, and shortening into a mixing bowl. Add hot milk and stir until the fat is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast and egg and beat until well mixed. Add flour 1 cup at a time. Let rest 10 minutes. Knead until elastic. Let dough rise to twice its size. Shape and let rise 30 minutes. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes.
100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough with Olive Oil
This recipe is very similar to the one used by Dan and Marilyn Geiger, but uses 100% whole wheat flour and though it is a pizza dough, whole grain bread can be made with it by following the Geiger’s directions above.
7 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk together the flour, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in a 5 quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) container. Add the liquid ingredients and mix without kneading. Get it all wet. Cover (not airtight) and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses, approximately 2 hours.
The dough is ready to use but can be refrigerated and used anytime over the next 7 to 10 days. Whenever you want a pizza, take out a portion of the dough out and stretch it to the size desired.
There are eight ECA clubs throughout Surry County. Call Area Extension Agent Carmen Long, 336-401-8025, at the NC Cooperative Extension Office in Dobson, for additional information about membership and participation.