Sunday, February 1, 2009

Artisan Bread and Having it All

I pulled my bread-maker out of storage this week and so far have made three interesting breads. I only use the machine to make the dough; I figure I can be kneading a person and getting paid for it (I am a Registered Massage Therapist) while the device kneads my ingredients into dough. Then I can still have the fun of shaping the dough, adding more things, and watching it rise before baking. We have the wood stove going all the time now, and in front of it is the perfect place to rise dough. So far I have made:

1. Cinnamon Buns:
Even though I substituted some interesting grain flours (barley, spelt, brown rice and oat flours) for 1/3 of the white flour called for, it still rose so much that it spilled out of the holder, and was way too wet though I used recipe exactly in terms of amount of liquid. I had to mix in quite a bit of flour on the board to get it under control. I added chopped pecans and raisins to the butter/sugar cinnamon mixture… next time I will make 4X as much of that goo and see what the maximum amount I can use is! For our tastes, though it came out delicious, we vote for more cinnamon goo! I left the icing sugar on the side as my hubby thought they were perfect without the extra sweetness.

2. Molasses Multi-grain Oat Bread:
This time I used half white and the rest other non-wheat flours, as above. Of all the various recipes I read on-line, I used the one with the most blackstrap molasses (a rich source of iron and many minerals). This is because my goal in making bread is to try and create a recipe that will have the maximum amount of healthy ingredients for optimal nutrition. I put dried cranberries and walnuts in the dough, and sesame seeds on the outside. DH did not like the intense molasses flavour with no sugar to counteract. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but then so is beer. Next time I’ll put in demerara brown sugar as well.

3. Multi-grain ‘pizza’ rolls.
I like the idea of something shaped like a cinnamon roll, except savory filling vs. sweet. I wanted a super-healthy all-in-one lunch bread. My goal with this was to see how little white flour I could get away with, plus how many ‘extras’ I could add, and still have it rise. I used one cup of white and 3 cups of other flours: spelt, barley and brown rice plus rolled oats. I also added ground flax seeds, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I used a dark beer for the liquid, and half molasses, half brown sugar for the sweet. I threw all this plus fresh-grated parmesan and oregano and rosemary from my garden, into bread-maker. And 22 cloves of finely chopped garlic gently fried in olive oil. I really love garlic! For the filling I used: asiago and mozzarella cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olive, artichoke hearts, and small pieces of salami. The final product was a bit too wet straight out of the oven. However, by the next day the rolls dried a bit and were a perfect lunch; we just finished them off and they were still yummy on the third day.

It came out pretty good, though I can see ways to improve this recipe too. I think next time, I would not add all the seeds or garlic till after the first rise. Even with such a small amount of wheat flour, it still rose, and I think the dough would have risen a lot more with less sharp things breaking up the dough from the start.

I will photograph and give complete directions once I am happy enough with my result to want to encourage you to try it too.

It must be clear to anyone with experience making yeast products that I am new at this! It’s my nature to invent and create vs. simply follow a recipe, so my new interest in bread will surely result in some new ideas that are worth reproducing!

Of course in the process of creating new ideas, some of the experiments may not turn out all that great. However, I have a dog that will be happy to eat my ‘failures’ if we can’t bring ourselves to! So it is all good!

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