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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Savory Spinach Bread

A late post of a bread for the St. Patrick's day potluck at work.  I had made two trial attempts earlier. This bread had ingredients similar to Spinach Bread 2 from the attempts,  except it used all bread flour.  This was probably only the third or fourth time in two years that I made an all bread flour bread.  It's a very different feeling kneading such a dough,  it was very sticky initially but then smoothed out wonderfully.

I was going to have to bake the bread the evening before the potluck and it was going to be a short evening because I had other things going on.  So I decided to make this over two days using delayed fermentation.

Day 1
6.15 oz baby spinach... lightly sauteed and pureed.  The pureed mixture weighed 5 oz
490 g bread flour
½ tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil
180 g water (little more than 1 cup)

(4 oz grated cheese (1 cup) on day 2)

(If making a 8½ x 4½ loaf,  use about 450 g of flour, and 150 g of water to begin with.  Use less salt if the cheese is quite salty.)


I mixed all the ingredients and kneaded well for 5 minutes or so.  The bowl was covered with a plastic wrap.  The dough sat for an hour and was then refrigerated overnight.  I wasn't sure about cheese going through the slow fermentation,  so I decided to add it between the first and second rise.

Ready for delayed fermentation in the refrigerator

Day 2
The dough was removed from the fridge about four and a half hours before it needed to go in the oven.  It had risen quite a bit.  After an hour and a half (or so),  when the dough was close to room temperature,  it was time to add in the cheese.  I used pepper jack to add a little kick to the bread.

6:10 pm: Ready to add the cheese in

I didn't want to destroy the gas that had built inside the risen dough. So the cheese had to be added in carefully.  This is how I blended the cheese in.
(Left to right,  top to bottom)

Second rise done

Using Laurel Robertson's shaping technique (even though it is the one for a loaf)
(Left to right,  top to bottom)

The dough was placed in a cast iron combo cooker which had preheated with the oven as it preheated to 400° F.  When the dough was placed in the oven,  the temperature was turned down to 350° F.  The lid on the combo cooker was removed after 25 minutes,  letting the crust form.  After another 25 minutes,  the bread was taken out of the oven.

A limb trying to sprout out the right side

Because the cheese had not been added when first preparing the dough, it did not become one with the dough and was quite likely not evenly distributed.   Also it melted unevenly and tried to flow within the dough. The result was a distorted boule with cheese trying to bubble out of it.

Chopped off limb showing a very hole-y crumb

The good thing about the distorted shape was that I could slice of a tiny piece to take a picture as well as taste the bread, without losing the boule shape.  It was fairly spicy and I was afraid it wouldn't be liked at the potluck.  I wasn't going to participate in the potluck as I was attending an off-site training workshop,  so RH got to take the bread.  I heard from him that a few colleagues said they liked the bread.  I got to eat the last piece that he brought back for me.

Date: March 15, 2012
Recipe: My own recipe
Flours: Bread flour
Bread specific ingredients: Spinach,  cheese (pepper-jack),  dried basil
Sweetener used: Sugar
Liquid: Water
Comments: Even though the bread didn't look very pretty (it would make a great Halloween bread, don't you think?),  it tasted pretty good. The crumb was wonderful with it's big holes.  I liked the two day baking process,  I think it would work for breads that didn't have too many mix-ins.  I am going to experiment with it some more in an attempt to not be tied down for most of the day on baking day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Multigrain Seed Bread

The challenge with this bread was to use chia seeds.  While I was at it I decided to add some more types of seeds and a mix of flours.

Chia seeds:
A search for chia seeds in bread most commonly gives results for quick (sweet) breads.  But there are several blog posts that talk about adding chia seeds to yeast bread,  most of them white breads.
Unlike flaxseeds,  chia seeds don't have to be ground/cracked to make them easily digestible.  They can be soaked in water to form a gel before adding them to the dough or they can be added directly keeping in mind that more water will be needed as the seeds absorb a lot of water.  I wanted to hide the seeds in the bread,  so I ground them up a little.  In order to keep the water uncertainty to a minimum I pre-soaked them.

Regular chia seeds, 1 Tbsp cracked seeds, and 1 Tbsp cracked seeds mixed in 4 Tbsp water

40 g / 2 Tbsp chia seed gel (Mix 11 g / 1 Tbsp chia seeds in 4 Tbsp water. Let soak.  Then use 2 Tbsp / 40 g of this mixture. This would be equivalent to 1 tsp dry chia seeds)
10 g / 1 Tbsp cracked flax seeds
50 g , scant ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds, ground

300 g whole wheat flour 
50 g bread flour (scant ½ cup)
50 g quick cooking oats (½ cup)
15 g soybean flour (¼ cup)

2 Tbsp dry milk powder (non-fat) 16 g
1 cup water
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar

(water for kneading 1-2 Tbsp)

I used dry milk powder because it needed to be used up soon.  It should be fine to use 1 cup low-fat milk instead of 1 cup water or simply skip the dry milk powder.


Dry ingredients and wet ingredients.  I dropped my initial plan to use applesauce

3:46 pm: Kneaded well for 8 minutes or so

3:46 pm: Close up, trying to show the little black chia seeds

5:33 pm: Long but very good first rise

5:35 pm: Deflated, rounded and ready for second rise

6:43 pm: Good second rise

6:45 pm: Shaped and ready for proofing

7:32 pm: The dough flattened as it rose, then some more when it was slashed. Overproofed?

A little oven spring

Decent slices, tad crumbly

Date: March 13, 2012
Recipe: My own recipe
Flours: Whole wheat flour,  bread flour,  ground oats,  soybean flour
Bread specific ingredients: Chia seeds,  cracked flax seeds,  ground sunflower seeds,  dry milk powder
Sweetener used: Agave nectar
Liquid: Water
Comments: I might have over-proofed the dough which might have caused the yeast to get used up and deflate the dough.  The bread tasted good.  Chia seeds are supposed to keep the bread moist because they hold on to moisture.  The bread lasted a week, but it was hard to tell if the chia seeds made any difference.  Another experiment with more chia seeds is due.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spinach Breads

I hope to bake a 'green bread' for a St. Patrick's day potluck at work.  These were two trial runs.  My father-in-law received half of each loaf as his March bread.

Spinach Bread 1
This bread was more whole grain.  I chopped the sauteed spinach and used curry powder to see how it would affect the taste,  hoping that it would taste good by itself with some butter.

400  g whole wheat
50  g bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
¾ tsp salt  (less than usual, to account for the curry powder)
1 tsp curry powder

5 oz baby spinach cooked until slightly wilted and then chopped
1 Tbsp light olive oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar
120  g yogurt (½ cup) mixed in 1 cup slightly warm water

Spinach Bread 2
This bread was going to be truer to what I plan for the potluck,  a more white bread,  with sauteed pureed spinach for an even color and basil and cheese for flavor.

140  g whole wheat
350  g bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
¾ tsp salt (less than usual to account for cheese)
1 tsp dried basil 

5  oz baby spinach cooked until slightly wilted and then pureed
85  g grated pepper jack cheese (3 oz)
¾ Tbsp agave nectar
1 cup water
(No oil, because the cheese has plenty of fat)

Ingredients for both

5:58 pm: Spinach Bread 1: Specks of chopped spinach clearly visible

5:58 pm: Spinach Bread 2: More evenly colored with spinach puree

8:06 pm: Spinach Bread 1: Decently risen

8:06 pm: Spinach Bread 2: More bread flour = Better rise

8:09 pm: Spinach Bread 1: Deflated, rounded and ready for second rise

8:10 pm: Spinach Bread 2: Deflated, rounded and ready for second rise

9:09 pm: Spinach Bread 1: Curry powder lending some color?

9:09 pm: Spinach Bread 2: Wonderful rise

9:15 pm: Bread 1 becomes a loaf, Bread 2 becomes a boule

10:51 pm: Both doughs are nicely risen

Pretty good oven spring on Bread 2

Bread 1 is not bad either

Bread 1: Even crumb with specks of (dark) green here and there

Bread 2: Bigger holes, even tint of green

Notes for Spinach Bread 1:
Date: March 2, 2012
Recipe: My own recipe
Flours: Whole wheat flour, bread flour
Bread specific ingredients: Spinach, curry powder
Sweetener used: Molasses
Liquid: Yogurt, water
Comments: The higher percentage of whole grain accompanied by the curry powder gave this bread a dark brown crust and crumb.  The chopped spinach turned darker green during baking.  The end result was a definitely-savory tasting bread that wasn't very green at all.  It tasted wonderful warmed and with some butter the next morning. However it staled fairly quickly, which meant finishing it up was left to me.

Notes for Spinach Bread 2:
Date: March 2, 2012
Recipe: My own recipe
Flours: Whole wheat flour, bread flour
Bread specific ingredients: Spinach, cheese (pepper-jack), dried basil
Sweetener used: Molasses
Liquid: Water
Comments: The end result wasn't as colored as I had hoped.  I wonder if using all bread flour would make the green more prominent.  I definitely plan to use more spinach (6 oz instead of 5) and more cheese (4 oz instead of 3).  This bread tasted good too,  much lighter than bread 1 (for obvious reasons).  It too staled within 3 days, but that won't be a problem for a potluck. That recipe will be the one after next.