Zak liked this bread better than the Harvest Fruit Bread; but I don’t agree. It is just a matter of personal taste–I like all the chewy, nutty goodness of a whole grain bread, and he likes a finer textured bread with fewer inclusions. The white flecks in the picture are whole grain oats that have been cut when I sliced the bread, exposing the uncooked interior.
Okay, so apparently this week’s theme at Tigers and Strawberries is bread.
I didn’t intend that, but it just seems to be going in that direction. So, rather than argue with it, I will go along and have fun with it. I am a big one for going with the flow of the Tao and letting it lead me to interesting places, so here we are, in the midst of a baking mood, talking about bread.
My favorite part of the two baking classes I took in culinary school was when we studied bread bakery, in Intro to Baking and Pastry. Every day, we created the breads for all of the dining rooms on campus. We made baguette, rolls, whole wheat breads, multi-grain breads, croissant, brioche and some rustic hearth breads. Every morning, we had a lecture on the science of bread bakery, a quiz on the material we learned the day before, and then we broke into groups and started baking bread before lunch. After lunch, we worked on desserts.
I am not a morning person, but the bread happened in the morning, and I was so into it.
I am into bread, in large part, because I love the fact that bread dough is alive. The yeast critters, when given food, warmth, water and air, create one of humanity’s basic foods–bread.
Bread dough is intensely sensual. I love the feel of the dough under my hands; the springiness, the way it seems to pulsate and breath as I work with it, kneading it beneath my palms. I love the smell of yeast as it works at fermenting sugar into alcohol, and the scent of the wheat in the flour itself is intoxicating to me.
At the same time, bread baking is also intellectually satisfying. There are specific measures, proportions and formlae to learn in order to bake good breads, and there is a chance to learn to flex mathematics muscles left long dormant in the brain. There is the joy of knowing the reason behind all of the formulas, there is the thrill of discovery and experimentation.
Bread baking has it all.
And I have loved it ever since I stood on a chair at the counter with my Grandma, who never measured a thing as she turned out loaf after loaf of delicious farm bread and rolls in every shape you could imagine. She kneaded her dough with the skill of long practice, and her gnarled hands seemed to go about their business without any help from her, while her face would take on a peaceful expression, as if she were deep in meditation.
Perhaps she was.
So, in the spirit of experimentation and intellectual curiosity, and for the sensual joy of it, I offer you my recipe for Blueberry Whole Grain Tea Bread–which may get a more fun and funky name later on, when I think of one.
Blueberry Whole Grain Tea Bread
1 cup bread flour
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup Harvest Grains Blend from King Arthur Flour
4 teaspoons Lora Brody’s Dough Enhancer
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons instant yeast (SAF is what I used)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup milk
1/2-3/4 cups water (in this loaf I used a very little over 1/2 cup of water)
1/4 cup dried blueberries, packed
Put all dry ingredients except blueberries into the workbowl of a Kitchenaid or similar mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add all liquid ingredients, using the smaller amount of water to start with.
Mix together, starting on low, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until a slightly sticky dough comes together and is pulled from the sides of the bowl. Once it comes together coherently, turn speed up to medium and knead until gluten development is sufficient. (To test for this, take a tiny ball of dough, and holding it up to the light, stretch it gently to see if it will form a very thin membrane that you can see light through. This is called “the windowpane test.” Be aware that the whole grains in this bread will mean that you cannot make a big windowpane–the whole grains will cut the gluten strands before they can stretch fully–this is part of why whole grain breads have trouble rising as much as breads made without inclusions of sharp-edged whole grains.)
When the gluten is developed sufficently, spray a bowl (I use a clear Pyrex one) with vegetable oil, and form dough into a ball, and roll it into the bowl. Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil spray and cover with plastic wrap. Leave one side of it a little loose so air can get inside. Put into refrigerator overnight to slowly rise until double.
In the morning, bring out dough, and warm up oven to about eighty degrees. Put dough in and warm it up for about an hour or so. It should continue to rise.
Roll dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat into a thin disk. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the surface, roll into a rope, and then cut into four chunks. Knead each chunk thoroughly to mix the berries into the dough. Flatten each chunk into a disk, and carefully pat them together into a rough rectangular shape. Roll this up into a thick rope and seal the edges. Tuck the two ends under and seal the edges.
Spray vegetable oil into a loaf pan, and lay dough carefully into pan. Spray top, cover loosely with plastic wrap and put into the oven, which hopefully is still around eighty degrees. (If it isn’t, warm it back up.) Allow to rise until it is doubled and fills the loaf pan–about an hour to an hour and a half.
Take dough out of oven, set it carefully aside, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 30-45 minutes at this temperature (if you have a convection oven, check bread after 25 minutes) until the internal temperature reads at 200 degrees. If the bread begins to brown too much on top, cover it for the last ten minutes or so of baking with a tented piece of aluminum foil.
This is a finer-textured bread than the Harvest Fruit Bread, and the dried blueberries are very fragrant when they bake. Adding the fruit after the first rise may have allowed the dough to rise more high than the Harvest Fruit loaf, or it may have been that I used bread flour and more dough enhancer. For whatever reason, this bread rose higher.
I like them both, but I think I prefer the first recipe.
And now for the weekly dose of feline pulchritude:
Here are our two eldest cats: Ozymandias, King of Cats, on the left, and Tristan on the right. Ozy is fourteen, and Tristan is nine or ten, give or take a few months. They are the best of friends, as you can see.
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