Oat flour bread

While we’re experiencing some really serious winter weather for this part of the country, I couldn’t think of anything I would like better than the aroma and taste of some warm bread.

loaf of bread

oat-flour bread

I got out the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and made bread.  Because we’re having the possibility of power outages and wanted something that would be easy for sandwiches so I made the “Oat Flour Bread” from that book. (I’ve modified that recipe for a more artisan-like bread using barley or oat flour, too).

Here is the recipe for the sandwich-style oat flour bread (summarized from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day).  See the links above for summary of basic method.

Oat Four Bread (pp.104-105)

Ingredients

  • 3-1/4 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons salt (kosher)
  • 1 cup oat (or barley) flour
  • 5-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I always use King Arthur)
  • Neutral tasting fat for oiling pan. P

Preparation

This makes three 1-1/2-pound loaves.

  1. Mix liquid, yeast, and salt in bowl.
  2. Add flours.
  3. Cover (but not airtight) and let rise to double volume.
  4. The dough can be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days (actually up to 14 days) just pulling off what you want to bake right then.
  5. Lightly oil a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan.
  6. Take a cantaloupe-size piece of dough and lightly flour surface and shape it into a ball or oval and drop into the pan.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Let rest/rise for about 1 hour 40 minutes for refrigerated dough, or about 40 minutes for freshly made dough, until it has about doubled in size.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until nicely browned.
  10. If possible, let cool before cutting–that very seldom happens in my house unless I bake an extra loaf.
  11. If you want it really crusty then follow the procedure with a pan of water in the oven (links above).

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If you like bread but the time for baking doesn’t seem to fit into your schedule, then this technique is worth exploring. Since there is no kneading, and it takes 15 minutes to mix (and clean up) it makes it possible.  I like it for cooking for one since I can easily make a small loaf more often.

I’ve made the pumpernickel (with and without seeds), rye, basic white, brioche, olive oil, and have been pleased with all of them.  I don’t think that the flavor is quite as yeasty as a bread that goes through the traditional method of kneading and several proofings, but it’s as good or better (and much cheaper) than the usual grocery store bread–anything you’ll get short of going to a real artisan bakery.  Once you get started with it, you can modify to your taste, too.  The same authors also have a similar book for healthy and whole grain breads (bibliography).

Adding to panzanella….

dark purple eggplant

Black beauty eggplant fruits

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t said much about one or two of the prominent summer vegetables–eggplant and summer squash. Well, here’s something that looks like it would be a good use of the ubiquitous eggplant that I’ve ignored except for baba ganoush and caponata. I no quarrel that eggplant nutritious, inexpensive, and the like.

I’ve already posted about another summer favorite of mine–bread salad or panzanella so I was pleased to see this recipe for a bread salad using grilled eggplant.  This kind of salad is so easy to fix single-serving amounts that I wanted to pass this along as another way to make use of a summer vegetable.  The image below was included with the recipe on the website Chow.com.

bread salad with grilled eggplant closeup

Cured Salmon

Summer is a time when I’m looking for foods that are satisfying, but light, cool, and refreshing; that often is a run to the local Harris Teeter for sushi–however, one of my favorite special treats is this cured salmon with good fresh homemade bread and a few trimmings like capers, minced sweet onion, thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes, maybe some cream cheese, and last, but certainly not least, champagne.  I think that the serves eight is if you’re using it as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre.  With trimmings you could have a light meal for three or maybe four, depending on appetite.

Cured Salmon in Molasses

Reference:  Pépin, Jacques, Jacques Pepin’s Table.  KQED Books,San Francisco, 1991, pp.118-120.  ISBN  0-912333-19-7

Servings: 8,  preparation time: 3-4 days.

For this recipe I want wild-caught salmon as it has a firmer texture than farm-raised, and a better flavor to stand up to the spices in the cure.  Much of the farm-raised salmon is not fat enough to work really well in this recipe.  It loses an incredible amount of fluid in the process of curing.  The best that I have ever done was wild salmon—King salmon.

Ingredients:

  • Large salmon fillet (about 1 ½ pounds) preferably center cut, of even thickness, throughout, with the skin left on but all bones removed.
  • ¼ cup coarse (kosher style) salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  •  ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

Preparation

  •  Lightly score the skin of the salmon in a lattice pattern so the salt, sugar, and spices will penetrate through it to cure the flesh.  (It is easier to cut through the skin in you hold the blade of the knife perpendicular to the fillet and run the entire length of the blade across the skin, instead of attempting to score it with just the tip of the blade.)  Place the salmon in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, sugar, cumin , allspice, paprika, nutmeg, and cayenne.  Spread the mixture evenly on both sides of the salmon, and wrap the salmon tightly in the plastic wrap.  Place in on a tray, and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 12 hours, to cure.
  • When ready to proceed, mix the molasses and soy sauce together in a small bowl.  Unwrap the salmon, but don’t remove it from the plastic wrap.  Pour half of the molasses mixture over the top of the salmon, and spread it evenly over the surface. Then turn the salmon over, and coat the other side with the remainder of the molasses mixture.  Re-wrap the salmon in the plastic wrap, place it on the tray, and return it to the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Unwrap the salmon, and remove it from the marinade.  It will have absorbed most of the marinade.  Discard any remaining marinade, pat the fish lightly with paper towels, and arrange it on a wire rack over a tray.  Refrigerate it for another 24 hours to dry out.
  •  At serving time, slice the salmon thinly on a slant, and serve two or three slices per person with buttered bread.  Garnish the salmon, if desired with chopped, onion, capers, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy!


Barley flour….

I’ve got barley flour now, so I can try the oat bread with barley instead. I like barley as well as oats, so this should be fun (and maybe healthy).  I think I can just substitute barley flour for oat flour, but I guess I should do a little research on the two before I do, though.

Panzanella (Bread Salad)

lots of tomatoes laid out on table

tomatoes, tomatoes…

Tomatoes, tomatoes and more tomatoes! So many ways to eat tomatoes…caprese salad, good old-fashioned tomato sandwiches–good white bread, mayonnaise, and juicy tomatoes; a sandwich that has to be eaten over the kitchen sink.   Then there is the BLT!  All good, but what else can you do with the summer abundance of tomatoes? Obviously  you can freeze some, or make sauce to freeze for winter use,  but one of my summer favorites is panzanella, or bread salad.  Since stale bread is a fact of life, even when you bake your own pretty much “on demand”, here is one of my favorite ways to use it up and to enjoy summer tomatoes.

This is a summary and adaptation of  my “go-to” recipe from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (pp. 554-555):

Ingredients

  • 1/2 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2-3 flat anchovy fillets, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon capers, soaked and rinsed
  • 1/4 yellow bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon good red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups firm bread (cut into 1/2-inch squared), trimmed of crust and toasted
  • 3 fresh, ripe, firm tomatoes
  • 1 cup cucumber cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • fresh-ground black pepper and salt to taste

Preparation

  • Mash the garlic, anchovies, and capers to a paste.
  • Toss  the pepper, garlic, anchovy, olive oil, and vinegar together in a bowl.
  • Put the toasted bread (and any crumbs) in a small bowl.
  • Purée one tomato in food mill; add to bread an allow it to steep for 15 minutes or longer.
  • Skin and seed the other 2 tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (picking out some of the seeds if there are too many).
  • Add the cut tomatoes and the bread squares to the bowl with pepper, garlic, anchovy, oil and vinegar mix, and  add the cucumber and the onion; toss thoroughly.

While the recipe calls for peeling the tomatoes, I don’t usually do this unless the skins are very tough–I’ve no objection to the extra fiber, and some objection to the extra work that peeling them takes.  I don’t pick out seeds either–I think that the “jelly” surrounding the seeds adds extra flavor and an acidity that is lost by removing them–however, if you want a more refined version, by all means peel and remove seeds. (If you keep the “jelly” and seeds, it increases the tartness of the tomatoes, so you might want to decrease the wine vinegar–just taste it and season accordingly.) You can add fresh herbs of your choice–basil, marjoram, oregano, Syrian oregano (zaatar)–whatever strikes your fancy!

If this cookbook is not in your library, there is also a recipe for a simpler version of panzanella at Epicurious.com.

If you’d like to make this a meal in itself, add some good quality canned tuna or your homemade tuna confit to it. Cucumbers and onions are certainly optional.  Some fresh mozzarella would work here too.

The basic recipe above makes four to six servings, but it’s very easy to cut this down to make a single-serving quantity–just eyeball it!

I decided that this had potential for a bacon, lettuce and tomato salad so I did some modification: omitted the anchovies, capers, and the pepper.  I prepared the bread and the tomatoes as for the panzanella, and substituted balsamic (or rice wine) vinegar.  I kept the cucumber for it’s crunch and freshness and the sweet onion, even though they are not part of the BLT.  I added crumbled crisp bacon, and had this over romaine lettuce.

Since I did this improvisation  (it just wasn’t something that I needed a recipe for), I’ve googled “BLT salad” and found lots of variations on that theme, especially with the dressing.  Since I’m one who does like mayonnaise with my BLT, I’ve looked for dressings using it, but haven’t found anything I like better than the basic oil and vinegar, though I may be adventurous and try a creamy dressing with mayonnaise, thinned with buttermilk in the future.

A son goût!  

Pumpernickel with seeds

sunrising through trees

morning through the kitchen window

I’m sitting here this evening, writing and waiting for the first loaves of the pumpernickel from the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day (p. 115) to come out of the oven.  I’ve peeked in and they look good and smell wonderful!

(Why does it seem that it takes so much longer for bread to bake once it smells so good that your practically drooling on the keyboard? I just know that one of these loaves is not going to get to cool as it should even though I know cutting it immediately will not help–that’s one of the reasons I like baking two smaller loaves–I can treat myself, and still have good bread for sandwiches.)

Waiting, and not very patiently….

Just because of the way that I use bread, I’ve baked these in the perforated Italian bread pan.  The crust is probably not quite what it would be directly on the baking stone, but it quite good and I have the longer, slightly skinnier loaf, and it’s easier if I want to bake a second loaf to share with friends.

This healthy bread has whole wheat flour, rye flour, and flaxseed meal in it…and I did put in the caraway seeds this time too.  I did tamper with the recipe that was given in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  I really do make an effort NOT to play with the recipe until after I’ve made it as given once, but I did not make it this time.

Since I had white whole wheat flour which gives a milder flavor instead of regular whole wheat, my dough wasn’t very dark, and it just lacked something in the kind of “bitter” smell that I’ve liked about that last batch of pumpernickel.  The “missing ingredient was the unsweetened cocoa powder, so I got carried away and put in cocoa powder.

One loaf of pumpernickel bread on cutting board with butter-bellIt’s out of the oven now, and cooled just enough so I can ravage one of the loaves–I’m cutting the one that didn’t rise quite as well, but it’s a keeper.  As you would expect with more whole grain flour, it’s more dense than the first batch, but a good crumb–which I’m sure would have been better had I not cut it so soon.  The flavor is great–the cocoa powder did the trick to take up for the white whole wheat flour, and I think that the flaxseed meal is really undetectable.  The amount of caraway seed called for in this recipe was only 2 tablespoon for four loaves–so it stays as a kind of “dark” background flavor.

This will get made again–with the modifications.  I think that I can work with this (without caraway) to try to get the Russian black bread recipe (the Smitten Kitchen) adapted for the no-knead technique. (It’s not just that it’s no-knead–I have a KitchenAid® mixer.  The real attraction is that I can have this dough in the fridge for a long time–10 to 14 days–and have freshly baked bread quickly and often, too.)

I’m now enjoying my warm (actually, hot) freshly baked bread with some unsalted butter and a light sprinkle of sea salt since the butter has no salt.  I do have some radishes in the fridge to have a radish sandwich tomorrow after the bread has really cooled!  That will be time to break out the bubbly!

one whole loaf and one cut loaf with slice of bread with butter.

…A son goût!  

Oat flour bread

Freshly baked oat flour bread

oat flour bread fresh from the oven

Bread is one of my favorite things–from the yeasty smell while it’s doing that last rise before going into the oven, while it’s baking, or just out of the oven while I’m waiting for it to cool a bit–to the crusty crunch of biting into a slice  fresh from the oven.

I’m addicted to having fresh bread when I want it, using the no-knead approach from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.   I’ve had great luck with every recipe that I’ve tried from this book–from the basic white bread to the brioche, including pita bread, rye bread, and now the oat flour sandwich loaf.

The stated intent of the oat flour recipe was to sneak more fiber and whole grain into the kids diet.  Since I don’t have to worry about the kid’s diet, only my own, I decided that I wanted more oat flavor and a different consistency–more like free-form boule or a loaf baked in an Italian pan.

I started with the “Oat Flour Bread” (pp.104-105) recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” ,  then added the information gleaned from reading Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day on gluten requirements and characteristics of flours, I’ve been working on modifying the recipe to meet my particular desires:  first, more oat flavor, and second, a dough that can be baked free-form, or in an Italian perforated pan rather than a loaf pan.

Oat flour bread dough for free-form loaf

Ingredients (3 one-pound loaves)

  • 3-1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2-1/2 cups oat flour (275 grams)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vital gluten (about 1-2 teaspoons per cup of whole grain flour)
  • 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (King Arthur is my preference)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon granulated yeast

Preparation

  • Measure out and whisk together the dry ingredients (except for salt and yeast). When you’re adding vital gluten you need to be sure it’s well mixed with the flour before you add liquid or it can form lumps.
  • Combine lukewarm water, salt and yeast in the mixing bowl and gradually add the dry ingredients.  If you’re using a stand mixer, use the paddle instead of the dough hook.
  • Place in a covered, but not air-tight container, and allow to rise until doubled in volume; then refrigerate.
  • Pull of the amount of dough needed and shape as directed, and bake in an oven preheated to 400 ° F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
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perforated italian loaf pan

Italian loaf pan (perforated

I like to bake my bread in an Italian loaf  pan (bigger than a baguette pan), since it’s just the right diameter to slice the bread on a diagonal and have a good size for a small sandwich. For me this is an effort at mindful eating and  portion control–rather than “dieting”.   This would do well in a baguette pan for good crusty bread if you don’t want to use it for sandwiches.  The Italian pan gives with some of the good parts of a baguette when it’s fresh out of the oven, but the flexibility to have sandwiches later as well.

loaves fresh from the oven, one cut, one whole

yum!

Whole wheat pita bread

Baba ghanoush with olive oil and parsleyNow that you have baba ghanoush, you need something to dip in it.  Crudities are always good—and healthy, especially in the summer when there are grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, or even blanched green beans.  The traditional thing to have with baba ghanoush, however, is pita bread.  I’m sure that you can find pita at your market but it’s very easy to make and tastes so good freshly baked.

I’ve posted about the no-knead bread dough that can be kept in the refrigerator for about two weeks.  You can use that same dough to make flat breads (pita included), crackers, pizza crust, and the like as well.  It’s just a matter of how you treat the dough.

The same authors who did Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day now have another book out:  Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  This no-knead method is SO easy, and works so well for single-serving cooking that I had to try this one too.

The master recipe in this is for a whole-wheat bread.  That basic dough can be used for pita bread as well.   That master recipe can be found on one of my favorite food-related blogs, Former Chef–so I’ll not reproduce it here.   I’ve made this recipe using white whole wheat flour.  I’ll admit that I’m partial to King Arthur flours; it’s available in my supermarket–so that is what I’ve used.

Pita bread

just out of the oven…

To make pita bread you don’t need to let the dough rise before baking so it’s very quick.  Just develop the gluten cloak  in the usual way. Since I wanted to do smaller pitas, I used about 75 to 100 grams of dough for each portion, “cloaking” each small portion and flattening it, rolling it out to about 1/8 inch thickness.

Since I did four at a time, I baked them on parchment paper on a baking sheet rather than directly on the stone.  With the 450 to 500 ° F oven it takes only about

Remove from the oven and wrap in a towel on a cooling rack.  They may “deflate”,

but the “pocket” is still there.   Pitas made from whole-grain flours may not puff as much as if made from unbleached all-purpose  white flour.

Since these are not crusty, you can store in a plastic bag.

Fresh-baked bread

The smell of fresh-baked bread is one of the best that I know (along with bacon and fresh-ground brewing coffee).  I cannot think of anything much more pleasurable than hot, fresh bread with butter and maybe some exquisite (unprocessed) raw honey.  I’ve found that even when cooking for one on a busy schedule it not impossible to bring that wonderful taste and aroma into my kitchen with a minimal investment of time.

Buying bread from the bakery is fine, but for me, I keep ending up with stale bread.  I can make bread crumbs for later use, but that fills my freezer with more bread crumbs that I’ll ever need.  I could freeze part of the bakery loaf, but even though that helps, it’s still not the same as fresh bread from the oven.  I’ve baked bread the usual way: proofing, letting it rise, punching it down, letting it rise…successfully.  I put small loaves in the freezer, and as long as I remembered to pull them out to defrost in the fridge over night, I could have fresh bread with minimal effort and in quantities appropriate for one person.  That was fine when I was a telecommuter; I could use my breaks to knead the bread, and take the few minutes necessary to pop it into the oven.  I had my small loaves; but, I had to remember to defrost it. When I was no longer a telecommuter, that did not work quite so well, so when I heard about the dough being kept in the refrigerator, I had to try it.

Deli-style rye breadThe no-knead, wet-dough technique described in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois lends itself admirably to cooking for one.  I was skeptical when I first heard about this, but since I love good, fresh bread, I bought the book and gave it a try.  It has made fresh bread for one an easy thing to do.  When I’m in need of an attitude adjustment, nothing does it better than to go into the kitchen and with minimal effort have my home smelling of fresh bread.  The main attraction of this method for me was that the dough could be kept in the refrigerator for about two weeks (less for dough enriched with eggs).  I can reach in and grab a handful of dough, form a small loaf, let it rise (shorter time for small loaf), and bake.  The hands-on time is minimal.  The results are wonderful.

To give you a sample, here is an adaptation of the Master Recipe a free-form boule from Artisan bread in Five Minutes a Day.  For measuring the flour, just dip and then level your measuring cup with a spatula (scoop and sweep)–no sifting required.  You can bake this on a cookie sheet, but if you really get into this, you will probably want to get a baking stone, but even baking on a cookie sheet, you have some good bread.  Be sure to use dry-ingredient measuring cups for the flour. I assuming that you likely don’t have a stand mixer or  a large food processor, so I’m given the hand mixing instructions here.  I think that the only “tricky” part is shaping the loaf; not having the pictures in the book, here is a link to a video which will show you the mixing and shaping technique.

Ingredients for dough to make four 1-pound loaves:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt or other coarse salt
  • 6-1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour
  • cornmeal for your cookie sheet or parchment paper

Add yeast and salt to the lukewarm water in a 5-quart bowl or lidded (not airtight) container.  Mix in the flour all at once with a wooden spoon.  If the mixing becomes too difficult with the spoon, use your hands (wet) to work in the flour, but do not knead the dough.  Now, allow to rise at room temperature (covered) for about 2 hours until the dough as doubled, or starts to collapse (flattens on top).  Refrigerate the dough overnight since it’s easier to shape the loaves with cold dough.

When you’re ready to bake, prepare you cookie sheet, or parchment paper with a light sprinkling of flour or cornmeal.  Now, sprinkle a bit of flour on the surface of the dough and pick up a handful (about grapefruit-size for a one-pound loaf). Sprinkle with flour and shape, as if you were pulling a blanket from the top down around it to the bottom side.  Don’t knead–this shaping should take only about a minute.

Place the loaf on cornmeal on the cookie sheet or on parchment paper, and let it rest for about 40 minutes for the one-pound loaf.

Preheat you oven to 450 ° F  with the rack in the middle of the oven.

After the bread rests for 40 minutes, dust the top of the loaf with flour.  Using a serrated knife, slash a 1/4-inch deep cross on top so that you control how the crust breaks open when it expands in the oven.

The crust will be best if you use steam in the oven; you can do this by using the broiler pan on the lower rack, and pouring in a cup of hot tap water when you put the loaf in to bake.  Baking will take about 30 minutes, or until the crust is brown.

Store the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make another loaf.

I started with the master recipe, and have now worked my way through a number of others: deli-style rye, brioche, chocolate bread (yum), brioche filled with chocolate ganache, the Portuguese broa (a corn bread–great for the Thanksgiving holidays), olive oil dough, and others.  Every recipe has worked as it should.  It’s great to be able to make myself a crusty baguette one day, and a boule, or sandwich loaf the next time–all from the same batch of dough.  Since I use some bread for sandwiches, I frequently bake mine in an Italian bread pan which lets me have an oval loaf , larger than a baguette, that works well for the kind of sandwiches I make.  This pan is perforated so you get a better crust than using a non-perforated pan.  The pan is nonstick, but with the wet dough you will still need to us a cooking spray to prevent sticking, and the dough will ooze into the perforations sightly, but it can usually be removed easily.

The container that I use to hold my dough is a Rubbermaid that I got from the grocery store.  It has a good lid, and is not airtight.  If you are hand mixing you could , just mix in this container.  The corners are slightly rounded, but I find it’s difficult to get all the dry flour mixed around the edges, so I usually mix in a bowl and transfer the dough into this container.  If the lid on the container fits very tightly, you will need to leave it loose of because of the gases that are formed during the fermentation.

Of course, I was excited when the second book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day appeared.  I’ve just gotten the Kindle version of that one, and  anxious to try some of the recipes there.  I’ve been interested to see comments about this technique on other blogs.  An adaptation of the master recipe for whole grain bread can be found on the Former Chef blog, along with some helpful photographs that should make you want to run to the kitchen and bake.   I intend to take this evening to peruse this book and see what gems I can find.  To be on the safe side, I’ll start with the master recipe to see how the dough handles.  Based on my previous experience with these recipes I’m expecting great things.

More recipes and baking tips can be found in Zoe Francois’s blog, Zoe Bakes. New recipes and tips are available at Artisan Bread in Five website as well.

I’m hooked on having fresh bread in such an easy way.  The loaves in the photograph are brioche just out of the oven.  If you really need an attitude adjustment, the smell of the brioche (especially when filled with chocolate ganache) will definitely do it!  More about brioche coming  soon.  Happy baking!