Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Greek Celebration Bread

Moving on to the second recipe in Bread Baker's Apprentice... Artos.  I had several reasons I wanted to really love this bread.  First, I was a Greek and Latin major, so anything from the Mare Nostrum region gets a few bonus points.  Second, I just got a lot of spices at Penzey's and I wanted to put them to good use.  Finally (somewhat related to the second point), this bread has a lot of relatively  expensive ingredients (almond extract, various spices, olive oil, honey, eggs etc), so I knew I would be very annoyed if it did not turn out well.  

I followed the recipe exactly and omitted the glaze (because I think the sugar ants would have liked it even more than the humans in this household).   

I liked this bread more than the Anadama bread, mostly because I prefer honey to molasses and I really liked the spices. 

Other people liked the bread too.  I brought a rustic loaf and the Artos to a pot-luck meal... lets just say the rustic loaf was not a big hit (perhaps too much energy to chew?).  I wasn't surprised since most people tend to prefer soft, enriched bread to bread with a harder crust and hole-y interior).  

My husband's comment was, "mi piace molto" (he's very picky).  He said it was similar to challah, only better... I'd hope so since the vegetable oil is replaced with olive oil; sugar with honey; water with milk.  

Kids loved it.

I think it would make really good cinnamon toast.  I plan to serve the leftovers that way tomorrow morning.

Here is a picture of the bread.  In the background I have a regular rustic loaf (I know-- heresy!-- that loaf is not sitting on its baking stone.  I've found that in that particular oven, the bottom burns if I cook it on the stone.  I do not have this problem in my other (gas) oven)


Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Challenge 1: Anadama Bread

Hater of molasses and enriched-dough breads, I was prepared to dislike this bread (a lot).   I began thinking of diplomatic ways of saying "Yuck.  This bread is no good."  I figured the best strategy to employ was the Ugly Baby strategy, whereby I would make neutral comments about the bread much in the same way one does when confronted with a friend's less than cute baby.  "Oh my!  Look at all that hair!"  Or, "Oh my goodness, his hands are so little!"   I came up with some bread-related comments like, "It contains molasses" and "I think there must be some carbs lurking somewhere in that loaf." 

Ugly-Baby strategy not necessary (not for this loaf at least).  It was good.  I can't call it "very good" because I'm still not a fan of breads with much more than flour, water, and a little levain.  The kids loved it.  Everyone except my youngest who, because of the molasses, thought she was eating some really messed-up gingerbread.  

A few changes to Reinhart's formula and method:  I used less yeast and I relegated the dough to the refrigerator for the first rise.  I found the dough rather slack and sticky, but since I shaped it cold, I was able to do it without adding any additional flour.  

This bread is good toasted for breakfast with honey, apple butter, or another sweet topping.  I also imagine it would be good with roasted turkey (or ham) and some sort of fruit chutney.  

I plan to post some pictures later in the evening.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Challah

I'm sure brownies-from-a-box will be popular appreciation items for teachers this week-- I know they were when I taught Latin.  Instead, the kids asked me to make some challah for their teachers.  Since they were all out when I got around to mixing the dough, the teachers can rest assured that only two clean hands were involved in the challah-baking, not 2 clean hands and 8 hands of questionable cleanliness.

Hark! Embarrassingly mediocre pictures of my efforts:



Monday, May 4, 2009

Getting to know my Reinhart cookbooks once again

Since my entire family is probably sick of challah and rustic sourdough batards, I signed up for the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge and will be using this blog to document my efforts.   Right now, the only Peter Reinhart recipe in my rotation is Pain a l'ancienne, which I use for pizza crust.  Honestly, I exiled BBA and Crust and Crumb to my livingroom bookshelf after some recent failed attempts at Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads recipes.  I am sure there are many wonderful recipes in this book, but I could not get past the whole Broom Bread headnote.... 

When I first saw the Broom Bread recipe, I did not immediately read the description, rather I began daydreaming of early Puritan settlers sweeping their floors while they fed their whole-wheat sourdough starters (wheat harvested with the help of their friends the Indians, of course)... then I thought of Sarah Plain and Tall in Kansas or Oklahoma or whatever grain-producing state she moved to in order to marry Pa and raise his kids. Even though broom bread wasn't mentioned in that book, I could imagine her sweeping up the chaff while her broom bread, made from recently-ground wheat, baked in her wood-fired oven. And I think her baby was getting warmed by the oven as well-- my broom-bread day dream was taking place in the winter. 

If you've made it this far, and I'm very sorry if you have, you will find out the true meaning of broom bread:

According to Reinhart, "All whole grain breads are high in fiber, but this one is a super-fiber loaf."

You might be thinking, "Huh? Is it called broom bread because it contains pieces of the broom?" That would be a better alternative to its true meaning.

Reinhart continues, "I call it broom bread because it really cleans out the colon as it works its way through your system."

It even comes with a warning, "As with all high-fiber foods, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep it moving and to get the full health value from it."

I'm not even sure if I should be posting this since I am known, on occasion, to share bread with friends and family. Here are some scenarios that could arise:

Strife among family and friends:
1) Me: "Do you want to try this bread? It is healthy!" 
Relative or friends at/nearing AARP eligibility: "What? Is that the broom bread you were telling me about? Are you trying to tell me my colon is dirty? Or do you think I'm at the age where I need to be eating more fiber????"

Awkward moments:

2) Friend: "Hey, that bread looks healthy."
Me: "It is. It's called broom bread."
Me (thinking): Rats. Now she's going to ask why it is called broom bread. I can't lie. I know the truth. The truth is painful.
Friend: Why is it called broom bread?
Me: Let me tell you about colons and the benefits of fiber.

Risk of physical danger!:

3) Me: Here, have some bread.
Friend: I don't have time to eat it here. I'll eat it in the car.
Me: In that case, you should take this bottle of water with you.
Friend: I'm not thirsty
Me: But it is dangerous to eat this bread without drinking a lot of water. This is BROOM bread. 
Friend: What's that?
Me: Well, Peter Reinhart calls it broom bread because it really cleans out the colon as it works its way through your system.

I'm sure there are many uses for broom bread. As I was writing this, I thought of one exciting possibility....

Sometimes we serve guests Underberg or digestives after dinner so people FEEL less full. One possibility is to serve broom bread... or, send the guests home with broom bread so that they won't just FEEL less full, they'll BE less full. 

If the effects of Broom Bread are intriguing or if you aren't into artisan baking and don't have 20 hours to spend making Broom Bread, I think Rite Aid sells Metamucil.