October 25, 2016

My brain has turned to bread

Typical breakfast as of late.

My cooking lately has bounced between making delicious things in the Instant Pot, and baking bread, but, in reality, the bread has taken over. I keep trying to post a recipe, but I get caught up in explanations, feel overwhelmed, and go for a walk instead. It's not that the bread is hard to make — the opposite, actually — but it's hard to explain in a few words. As you can see in the photo above, eating the bread is easy, and making avocado toast has reached the top of my list of "things to have for breakfast." (The above toast also had a layer of hummus, which I don't particularly recommend, and a layer of tomato, which is great.) Maybe next I'll try a suggestion that appeared on the blog in 2010 for eggy tofu on toast. It had a layer of tofu sprinkled with black salt on top of a layer of avocado.

I started the bread adventure by baking a sourdough buckwheat loaf. (Click here for the original recipe.) It contained only buckwheat groats, water and salt, and you can read about my experience here. The loaf was interesting and tasty, though not particularly sourdough-like, and although I liked it, I didn't love the texture. I can never leave a recipe alone, you know, so I started thinking of ways to adapt it to be more to my liking. I remembered a nut and seed loaf I'd made and admired a year or two ago, and wondered if I could combine the best features of both recipes. In my blog post I wrote, "Some time ago I made a very good nut and seed bread based on Josie Baker's adventure bread, (which in turn was inspired by My New Roots Life Changing Bread). I may try to incorporate some of the ideas from these breads into the buckwheat bread."

Some of the breads rose in the oven. See the nicely rounded top?

"May try" ha ha ha. I've made about four breads so far, and although I have more experiments to go, it's time to describe what I've done and post a recipe. Maybe someone who reads this will try it, get a brilliant idea how to change and improve it, and save me the trouble!

The first variation I tried was to substitute 1/2 cup of millet for the same amount of buckwheat groats, and incorporate aspects of the adventure bread (see link above). For one of the breads I was short on ingredients and substituted 1/2 cup of amaranth for 1/2 cup of buckwheat. (Don't do that.) I soaked the buckwheat and millet overnight, as per the sourdough recipe, drained the grains in the morning, then briefly buzzed in the blender to incorporate the grains with the water, while leaving a lot of texture in the mix. Then I placed the grain mix in a large bowl, and added seeds, nuts, rolled oats and several other ingredients, including psyllium husks. I packed the mixture into a oiled loaf pan and let it rest about four hours before baking. I was surprised to find that the loaf had risen during the baking process, and I wondered what would happen if I fermented the grain mixture overnight before baking, as in the original recipe. Would it rise more?

With sunflower, pumpkin, and black sesame seeds, and walnuts. Don't think I like walnuts.

Nothing much happened — that I could see, anyway. The mixture rises overnight when fermented, but the final bread doesn't rise more when baked, and I actually preferred the texture of the non-fermented loaf. Another change I made was to lightly toast the nuts and seeds (except for the sesame seeds), and I think the toasting improved the taste, but is optional. I happened to have hulled sesame seeds which is why I didn't toast them — they seemed too delicate compared to whole seeds. I would toast unhulled sesame seeds, and will probably opt for unhulled next time I buy them. To toast, I put the nuts and seeds in a shallow ceramic baking dish and placed them in a 350˚F oven for 10 minutes. Check after five minutes to make sure they aren't burning. My oven tends to be slow.

Unbaked loaf before resting and baking.

The last loaf I made had one cup of millet and one cup of buckwheat groats, seeds but no nuts, plus sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. This was my husband's favorite. It was also the only loaf I shared with anyone besides my husband. My husband tends to like everything, so might not be the best gauge of how others might react. My son and daughter-in-law were at our house, and I gave them each a slice of avocado toast. They liked it, and my son asked if I could bring a loaf of the bread to Thanksgiving dinner, which I consider high praise, as he's such an accomplished cook.

Sun-dried tomato and olive loaf.

For some reason, the last loaf didn't rise during baking, and I'm wondering if it was because I made slits across the top before baking. Maybe it's steam that makes it rise. Or does it have something to do with the greater percentage of millet? Any scientists out there?

I have more experiments lined up for the next few loaves but I'm going to share the recipe as it stands now. It seems to me you can probably vary the amounts and kinds of nut and seed additions with little effect on the finished product, as long as you keep the basic proportions of wet to dry. I'd suggest reading the original recipes that inspired me (links above), to fully understand the process, and, you might rather try one of those breads instead of mine. Also, keep in mind, if you want the recipe to be gluten-free, be sure to choose gluten-free ingredients. The bread is delicious, dense, heavy and satisfying, and is at its best toasted. I usually toast my slices two or three times.

Avocado with roasted red pepper from the farmers market.

Seeded buckwheat bread with sun-dried tomatoes and olives
  • one cup raw, hulled buckwheat groats*
  • 1 cup millet*
  • 1-1/4 cups filtered water plus water for soaking
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (I use 2 but it's better with 3 if you're not reducing oil intake.)
  • 1 tablespoon natural sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt* (like kosher salt)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (Toast if you use unhulled. Don't toast if you use hulled.)
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds (toasted)  
  • 1/2 cup pepitas (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts if desired, optional
  • 1/4 cup psyllium husks
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (not in oil), optional
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives, optional
  1. Rinse the buckwheat and millet in a fine mesh strainer, then place the grains in a large glass bowl, cover with filtered water and soak overnight. For me, overnight usually means 3 p.m. to about 10 a.m. the next day. (This is based on my habits, not science.)
  2. In the morning, line a 9-inch by 5-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and oil any part of the pan not covered with parchment. (See photo above.)
  3. Drain the grains well and place in the blender with 1-1/4 cups of water. Pulse a few times to integrate the grains with the water. The grains should be broken up but still coarse, not smooth.
  4. Place the mixture in the large bowl and incorporate the oil, sugar and salt. 
  5. Add the oats, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, nuts if using, psyllium husks, tomatoes and olives. Mix well to incorporate ingredients. Feel free to use your hands, if desired.
  6. Pack the mixture into the prepared baking pan, cover with a towel, and allow to rest for four hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Bake at 400˚F for one to 1-1/4 hours. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest about 20 minutes. Loosen the ends of the bread with a knife, and lift the bread out of the pan. (You may need a helper to hold down the pan.) Remove the parchment and allow the bread to cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.
  8. Store the bread on a board, covered with a kitchen towel.
  9. The bread is most delicious when toasted.
*The recipe also works well with 1-1/2 cups of buckwheat and 1/2 cup of millet. I don't know which proportion I prefer.
*Coarse salt is less salty by measure than fine salt. If you only have fine salt, use 1/2 teaspoon.

You're probably sick of reading about my bread by now, so I'll try to force myself to think about something else for a while, though it will be hard. I warn you, though, there will probably be a bread sequel.

5 comments:

  1. I'm glad you let us get inside your brain because it sure looks like a delicious place to be! I'm wild about dense breads that are packed full of nuts and seeds like this, and turning it into avocado toast just puts it over the top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved the 'adventure bread' I made, but for some reason, never made it again. I think at the time I wanted a lighter loaf. Now, I've learned to appreciate the deep flavor and substantial texture of a good grainy, seedy loaf of bread.

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  2. You're getting to be quite the baker! I'm so used to bread with lots of air pockets, it's a nice change to have more of a dense bread with lots of nuts and seeds packed in. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Air pockets are good. Heavy and dense is good. It's nice to be able to choose!

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  3. I'm highly impressed with your baking adventures! That really is a good looking loaf, and the toppings are just the sort of thing I'd love to eat. I love all the seeds in there.

    ReplyDelete

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