I haven’t posted this recipe in a while, but it is still my favorite bread, and is in fact still the #1 reason people visit my little blog. To read my views on this bread, click here. For pictures of it being made and additional directions, click here.
4 cups whole wheat flour
Boil the grains in the water in logical succession according to cooking times: first the white and red beans (about 60 minutes), when they are soft add the, spelt berries, lentils, and barley (about 30 minutes); lastly, add the millet and bulgar (about 10 minutes). The key is that after each addition the previous grain must be soft enough so that when all of the grains are in the pot they will all be equally soft; undercooked grains (especially the beans) can really ruin this bread. And as the grains cook add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe (keeping a lid on the pot will slow it’s evaporation). After the grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. After the grains are cooled drain them, squeezing them with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains.
Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
I made this bread tonight. Made the preferment while I took a nap after work, mixed the dough before I went to the health club, and baked it while I ate dinner. Beautiful, delicious, and easy to make. And it is, of course, made with 100% whole wheat flour. Honey-oatmeal. I’ve posted this recipe–and variations of it–before but not in a while. It’s one of my favorites and one I make often so I thought I’d re-post it.
6 cups whole wheat flour, divided
2 cups oatmeal, plus additional for coating
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
3 ½ cups water, divided
2 tablespoons instant yeast, divided
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Separate the ingredients into two bowls using this ratio: In one bowl combine 4 cups of flour, two cups of oatmeal, the wheat gluten, and 2 ½ cups of water; stir until just combined. In the second bowl combine the remaining 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of yeast, and 1 cup of water; stir until just combined. Cover the bowls and allow the ingredients to rest and begin fermenting for at least an hour, but up to 12. Then combine the contents of bowl bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the remaining tablespoon of yeast, along with the olive oil, honey, and salt. Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes, then cover and allow to rise for one hour. Transfer the dough to a work surface, cut it into two or pieces, gently shape it into loaves. Dust the counter with extra oatmeal and roll the loaves in it, gently pressing oatmeal into the surface of the raw dough. Place the loaves into oiled loaf pans, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 425F. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on. Remove the bread from their pans and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
So if you’ve been to this blog before you know that I like bread. A lot. I enjoy eating it, of course, but I also enjoy making it. I’ve often said that bread makes itself, that we merely provide the correct conditions and guide it along; I am really fascinated by its process. I’m also really interested in the history of bread and roles it has played throughout civilization and especially religion. Bread is in fact mentioned hundreds of times in the old and new testaments. But what I’d like to touch on here is the Parable of the Leaven (sometimes called the Parable of the Yeast). This is mentioned in both the Gospel of Matthew 13:33, and in the Gospel of Luke 13:20-21.
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty poundsof flour until it worked all through the dough.”
But before I go any further let me say this (as I’ve said on a few occasions)…I read the bible as almost entirely metaphor. I believe there are stories and teachings in it that can aid us even today in 2013 if we look close enough, but sometimes it is a difficult process…I know it is for me. I am not here to try to preach or tell you what this means, just simply to say what I feel (because I can guess, but I do not know what it means…I can only guess and translate it to my life).
This said, lets look at the word parable. It comes from the Greek, parabolē, which we’ve interpreted as a sort of story or analogy. But it’s original meaning is a bit different. The word parabolē is actually a phrase; two words, meaning to “throw” or “toss” (bolē) “next to” (para), so loosely this can be taken as the story or meaning is next to or within the story. Hmmm…
Now lets look at the leaven itself (this is where it gets really interesting). But first I have to say a few things about yeast. It is a naturally occurring living organism; a form of fungus, actually. It is relatively dormant until provided the correct conditions. Mainly, the correct temperature, moisture, and food (the carbs and sugars in flour). When it has these three conditions it eats. More specifically it feasts, and on a biblical scale (yes, I see the pun here). As it feasts it gives off gases (don’t we all), mainly carbon dioxide but also ethyl alcohol. As these are released they form pockets of air or gas in the dough, and as the yeast continues to eat and give off gas these pockets or bubbles grow, sort of inflating the bread. This is how it rises. But ok, enough about the science of it, back to the leavan…the biblical kind.
This is a continuation of this post where I listed a recipe for grissini. As I had mentioned, I am currently reviewing this book (which I highly recommend thus far) and have been testing a few of the recipes…so here’s a couple more. The recipes listed below–though originally derived from the book in mention–were borrowed from BreadBasketCase (click here and here) for the simple reason that I came across them and wouldn’t have to retype them (I am getting so lazy). Anyhow, both recipes are good, but the ciabatta is outstanding. That recipe I followed exactly, but the raisin-pecan bread I deviated a bit by using currants and walnuts (it’s what I had on hand). I like to post recipes that are simple to make (so that people actually make them), and these may seem complicated at first glance but they actually are not. If you read through the (somewhat lengthy) directions you’ll see they are pretty easy to follow.
Ciabatta with Stiff Biga
–From Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman
6.4 oz. (1 1/2 cups) bread flour
3.8 oz. (1/2 cup) water
1/8 tsp. instant dry yeast
1 lb. 9.6 oz. (5 3/4 cups) bread flour
1 lb, 3.6 oz. (2 1/2 cups) water
.6 oz. (1 T.) salt
.13 oz. (1 1/4 tsp)instant dry yeast
1. BIGA. Mix the yeast, flour and water until just smooth. The biga will be stiff and dense, and may need a few more drops of water to mix entirely. Cover the bowl and plastic and leave for 12 to 16 hours at room temperature.
2. MIXING. Add all the ingredients to the mixing bowl except the biga. In a stand mixer using a dough hook, mix on low speed for 3 minutes. As the dough comes together, add the biga in chunks. The dough will be quite sticky and slack. Finish mixing on medium for 3 1/2 to4 minutes. The dough will still be sticky.
3. FERMENTATION AND FOLDING. Put the dough in a mixing bowl sprayed with baker’s spray. Fold the dough twice, after one hour and again after two hours. This is where you fold quickly and assertively, adding no extra flour.
4. DIVIDING AND SHAPING. Flour the work surface copiously. Invert the dough onto the work surface and pat out the larger air bubbles. Lightly flour the top surface of the dough. Cut the dough into 3 rectangles, weighing about 18 ounces each. Gently shape into rectangles. Place the dough piece onto floured bread boards (I used floured parchment paper). Cover the shaped dough with baker’s linen and then plastic.
5. FINAL FERMENTATION. About 1 1/2 hours.
6. BAKING: Preheat oven to 460 degrees.
To transfer the proofed dough to a baker’s peel, spread the fingers of both your hands. With a quick, deft stroke, invert the dough piece so that the side that was touching the bread board is now on top. Place one hyand at each end of the dough piece, bring your fingers underneath, and pick it up. Here you will slightly punch the dough for easier transport; there should be wrinkles in the center of the loaf as the transfer it to the peel. [I just picked up the parchment paper and put it on top of a pre-heated baking stone–I’m using his instructions here just to show why I think they’re hard to understand.) Fill the oven with steam, load the ciabattas, steam again, and bake for 34-38 minutes. (I used the steam machine; otherwise you can use either an ice cube or boiling water method to get steam. Hamelmans thinks you should use all three: ice cubes on a heated skillet before the bread goes in, boiling water on a heated pan when the bread goes in, and spritzing with water too). Lower the oven temperature by 10 or 20 degrees if bread is taking on too much color, but be sure not to underbake. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool on a baking rack.
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD WITH PECANS AND GOLDEN RAISINS
–from Bread, by Jeffrey Hamelman
Makes two loaves
1 pound (3 5/8 cups) whole wheat flour
1 pound (3 5/8 cups) bread flour
1 pound, 5.8 ounces (2 3/4 cups) water
.6 ounces (1 T) salt
.16 oz. (1 1/2 tsp) instant dry yeast
4.8 oz. (1 cup) golden rains, soaked and drained
4.8 oz. (1 3/8 cups) pecans
1. About 30 minutes before starting, pour warm water over the golden raisins and let them sit for up to 30 minutes to soften. Drain the rains well.
2. MIXING: Add all the ingredients except the rains and pecans to mixing bowl. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes (using dough hook if you have a KitchenAid) to incorporate the ingredients thoroughly. The dough consistency should be moderately loose. Turn the mixer to the second speed and mix for about 3 minutes more. Add the drained raisins and pecans (the recipe doesn’t say whether they should be chopped, so do whatever you want). Mix on low speed, just until the rains and nuts are thoroughly incorporated.
3. BULK FERMENTATION: Put in large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about two hours. If it’s more convenient, you can put the dough in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight.
4. FOLDING: After the dough has been rising for about an hour, take it out of the bowl and put it on a lightly floured work surface, pat it out it into a rectangle, and fold it, as if you’re folding a business letter, in thirds, and put back into the bowl.
5. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: The dough can be put into loaf pans or you can make it free-form into a round or oblong shape. Divide the dough into half, and place the dough pieces on a lightly floured work surface. Cover the rounds with plastic and let rest 10 to 20 minutes, until relaxed. Shape into a blunt cylinder just slightly smaller than the loaf pans if you’re using the pans. Otherwise, shape into round or oblong shape.
6. SECOND RISING: Cover loaves with oiled plastic wrap or with cotton or linen towel and let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hour.
7. BAKING: Preheat oven to 450. If you have a baking stone, put that in the oven and preheat it too. Put the loaf pans on the preheated stone, or on the oven rack if you’re not using the stone. Lower the temperature to 425 after 20 minutes. Bread baked in the loaf pans will take 30 to 35 minutes to bake. Loaves baked freeform will take about 40 minutes.
Pencil-thin breadsticks…grissini. Beautiful, aren’t they? Easy to make, too. These are coated with Parmesan and black pepper making them even more tasty. But you may be wondering why I am making bread with refined flour (opposed to whole wheat). Well, I do now and again. But the real reason is that I just received this book to review for ChefTalk and this is the first recipe I’ve tried. It is a really good book; I recommend it at this point…I’ll post a link to the review when finished. Anyhow, this recipe is about as easy as they come. Simply place most of the ingredients together in a bowl, knead it, allow it to ferment, cut it into strips, roll it in cheese, and bake them. Now all the recipes in the book are not this easy (in fact most are not), but this is an adaptation of the one in the book (of course I’ll eventually make these with 100% whole wheat). I do hope you try these; they are simple to make and additively delicious.
A nylon bag containing a computer, a canvas bag containing an extra camera, an electronic reader, two books, a journal, a small tripod, and various writing tools; a dough rising bucket containing a small paper bag which contains a smaller plastic tub of homemade gravy; a round tin resting atop the dough rising bucket containing 4 chive crepes stuffed with beef stroganoff; two loaves of freshly baked oatmeal-flax bread.
7/99, as in July 1999…this is my 13-year-old levain (sourdough starter) which I brought out of hibernation. I’ve yet to make 100% whole wheat bread with a natural starter…this is next on my list. After that, naturally leavened whole wheat Ezekiel Bread. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you want to read more about sourdough–with pictures, info, and how-to instructions–click here. For an Ezekiel Bread Recipe, click here.
The below recipe is one that I’m working on for an article for an upcoming issue of Artvoice magazine, it’s about cooking with beer. The only liquid in the pictured bread is–you guessed it–beer. The recipe does not contain 100% whole wheat flour as when I write for paid publication I tone it down a bit on the “whole wheat thing“…some but not all I’m sure share the same affinity as I for entirely whole wheat recipes (but this can easily be adapted to using whole wheat with any of the recipes on this blog). If you are interested in more beer-inspired recipes I’ll link the article when it comes out next week. Anyhow, it’s a pretty straightforward recipe and the bread is super delicious. Enjoy.
If you’ve been to this blog before you know that I like to bake bread…a lot. And like many bakers over the years I have come to rely on the mechanical means of an electric mixer to do the tough work…knead the dough. Most of my bread recipes, in fact, include a direction something like this “…combine the contents in anupright electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead the dough onmedium speed for about 8 minutes…” But this wasn’t always the case; I’ve been baking bread for hobby and profession for something like 25 years…and during the early years I didn’t own a mixer. In fact, for the few years that I was a restaurant’s owner we (my sous chef and I) baked all of the restaurant’s bread without the aid of a mixer. But over the years I’ve not only come to rely on them–at work and at home–but also enjoy them. But as some of you may also know, I have been sans mixer (at home) for the past month or so (as previously posted here and here). Anyhow, I had the day off today and felt like making bread (and a pizza for dinner out of the same batch of dough), so I kneaded it by hand…and I’m glad I did. When I knead dough by hand I remember things. I remember the basic ingredients that go into a dough because I can feel them in my hands. I remember the miracle we call bread–and the crazy chemistry that happens in bread dough–because I have time to think about it. But mostly I remember how difficult our fore-cooks (especially the homemakers) must have had it–not just with bread, but putting three square meals a day on the table using only there hands and a live fire. I’m glad for electric mixers (and, in fact have a new one on order); I’m glad how efficient they are and that they enable me to do other things while the dough is being kneaded. But I’m also glad when I knead the dough by hand…because it makes me remember what a miraculous thing it is.
I haven’t posted a recipe for Ezekiel Bread in a while, but it is my favorite bread. The picture of the pizza above and the bread below were both made using the recipe that follows. Interestingly, Ezekiel Bread recipes are still one of the number 1 ways that new visitors find there way to this blog. I’m not sure how these recipes (all variations on a theme) became so popular, but if you Google it you’ll see why this is. Likely, I think people are looking for a recipe that is not complicated, and also one that works. I really believe this is one of the most misunderstood bread recipes there is. If you’d like to read my interpretation of it–with additional pictures and step-by-step instructions–click here. If you want to read why I adjusted the liquid content in the recipe (which is the same recipe included in this page), click here. If you want to see the original post on this recipe–which includes white flour and the most comments any other post on this blog has ever received–click here.
4 cups whole wheatflour
Boil the grains in the water inlogical succession according to cooking times: first the white andred beans (about 60 minutes), when they are soft add the, speltberries, lentils, and barley (about 30 minutes); lastly, add themillet and bulgar (about 10 minutes). The key is that after eachaddition the previous grain must be soft enough so that when all ofthe grains are in the pot they will all be equally soft; undercookedgrains (especially the beans) can really ruin this bread. And as thegrains cook add more water to the pot as necessary because thecooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of therecipe (keeping a lid on the pot will slow it’s evaporation). Afterthe grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to roomtemperature, refrigerating if necessary. After the grains are cooleddrain them, squeezing them with your hands or the back of a spoon,reserving the cooking liquid.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface andcut it into 2 or 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightlyoiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow toferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gentlytouched with a fingertip an indentation remains.
Bake thebreads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times(either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breadsevery ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown andsound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans andallow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes beforeslicing.
As many of you know, I like bread. A lot. I enjoy making it, but more importantly I enjoy eating it…and I do not believe it makes you fat. I could easily be a poster boy for the high-carb diet…I eat bread, pasta, or rice at nearly every meal and am well within my proper body weight. The key, I believe, is whole grains…they are really good for you. I also believe that everyone should make their own bread (at least sometimes)…not only will it nourish your body, but also your emotions; there is something very primal about having your hands in raw dough and transforming ingredients so basic into something so complex. It is, in short, an alchemistic art-form. And breads you purchase–even though they may say “whole grain”–have a lot of other things in it besides the grain. Take a look at this label for “whole grain bread”…a paragraph long list of mostly unpronounceable ingredients is unnecessary. In truth, to make a really good and wholesome loaf of whole wheat bread you need only these four ingredients. In the recipe pictured here–bedsides the seven-grain mix–I count eight other ingredients…all recognizable and pronounceable. If you don’t have a seven grain mix you can use whatever grain you have (brown rice works great). This is made in the same way that I make Ezekiel Bread, only it’s easier because you can boil the grain all at once (click here or here for Ezekiel Bread recipes). Anyhow, this recipe is way easier to make than it may seem at first look. I hope you try it…both your body and soul will be glad you did. If you’d like to read more about how to bake with whole wheat–it’s similarities and differences with white flour–follow this link.
This is a simple-to-make hearty and flavorful breakfast, and it also happens to be my son’s favorite (somewhat of a Saturday morning tradition). French toast can be made in any number of ways, but the key to a really good one is great bread and flavorful syrup…of course the syrup can be purchased but it is just as easy to make it at home in about 5 minutes. And to make homemade syrup is as simple as boiling fruit juice (I used pineapple juice toady, but any juice will do) until enough moisture evaporates and it becomes syrupy and the flavors are concentrated…this, after all, is how the maple syrup companies do it, but only on a large scale. Sometimes (often) I’ll “boost” the syrup’s sweetness with a tablespoon of sugar or honey; today I added sugar. While most of us recognize this recipe as French Toast (likely because of the custard the bread is soaked in), if you are a true Francophile you may know this as pain purdu, or “lost bread” because it is a great way to utilize stale–or lost–bread…but trust me, made with really good bread this is anything but lost. To see other versions of this with many more pictures f it being made, click here.
“Cooking is a great destresser because it serves as a creative outlet,” says Debbie Mandel, author of “Addicted to Stress.” “And while stress can numb your senses, cooking activates them. It’s a sensory experience with aroma, taste, touch, visual delight and even sizzling sound.”
I could easily start and finish this post with it’s title: I Like to Cook at Home. Though I cook all day at work I still like to cook at home; it’s my favorite place. Often the busier the day at work the more I want to cook myself dinner at home. I don’t eat like I cook on the job–most chefs don’t–otherwise I would be either as big as a house or in the grave. At work I cook tons of red meat and often use cream and lots of butter. At home my meals are based on pasta, olive oil, bread, pizza, and vegetables. On-the-job cooking is often stressful; at home it is relaxing. Cooking at home can be a form of therapy. Most often it is just my son and I, or even just myself. The above picture is tonight’s meal in progress. Chicken ragu in one pot, macaroni boiling in another; broccoli aglio e olio sauteing in the foreground, and a seven grain mixture boiling in the rear (which I’ll make into seven grain bread in the morning). At work I never allow a radio or stereo playing (there’s enough white noise in a stressful kitchen), but at home I always listen to music or NPR; tonight I was listening to Fred Eaglesmith. I can’t image not wanting to have the desire to cook for myself; I feel blessed. People ask me all the time if I don’t get tired of cooking. No is always the answer. But if I were to elaborate I would say that while I still enjoy and feel lucky enough to cook for a living–no matter how stressful–my most favorite place to cook is at home, and sometimes just for myself.
I don’t have a typed recipe for tonight’s meal to offer, but this one–which contains fish and is one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes–is really good and similar to the chicken version we had tonight. If you’d like to read an article I wrote for Artvoice a few years ago on these very same thoughts, click here.