Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers February 2017

This month our baking group is cooking up a healthy Flaxseed Loaf, which in my opinion makes a great everyday sandwich type bread. If you’re looking for a bread that incorporates whole grains, is rich in antioxidants as well as healthful Omega 3 fatty acids this bread may be just what you’re looking for. Here is an interesting tidbit from the World’s Healthiest Foods website:

Interestingly, bread enriched with ground flaxseed has also been shown to have a greater antioxidant capacity and a much lower glycemic index value (of approximately 51) than the same bread without the ground flaxseed addition. These research findings are great news for anyone who wants to include flaxseeds in baked dishes, in either whole or ground form.

This bread is one that I’ve made in the past – in fact I had notated some changes that I’d made to the recipe back in 2008. I pretty much stuck with those very minor changes this time around and will describe them for you below. One of the things that I loved about this bread is that it is relatively quick and easy to make, has a mellow flavor, and it bakes up with a really nice crust.

I can’t copy the recipe here, and it is not one that Rose has published anywhere other than the book, or if she has, I can’t find it. If you’re interested, however, see my “duh” moment below for a way to borrow the book if you want to try it out. I can assure you that you will learn so much about baking bread and enjoy so many of the recipes that you’ll not be disappointed if you buy the book.  Whether you borrow or buy, this book is really helpful when it comes to baking bread.

 

Dry ingredients, including the flaxseed ready for mixing

 

The recipe calls for a combination of three flours – all-purpose, whole wheat, and pumpernickel. In many recipes which call for whole wheat flour, I substitute an equivalent amount of King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat flour. If you look back at prior posts, you’ll see that I have used this flour in a number of recipes – Irish Soda Bread, Everyday Whole-grain Bread, and Pumpkin, Oat, and Date Muffins are three examples I’ve written about on the blog. You’ll get all of the benefits of whole wheat, but with a milder taste and texture so you’re able to sneak it into baked goods if you’re looking to up the whole-grain content.

I really have to be careful about how much flour and other dry goods that I buy and keep on hand. If I overdo it and don’t use it up quickly enough I end up with a variety of pantry pests. Keeping my dry goods in the freezer isn’t an option due to space limitations. I’ve invested in a fairly large selection of airtight Oxo POP containers, use traps faithfully, and can still end up with problems. For that reason, I did not want to invest in a bag of pumpernickel flour which is a more coarsely ground flour than the rye we used in our December recipe, Levy’s Real Jewish Rye. Therefore I replaced the pumpernickel flour with the Arrowhead Mills rye I had on-hand which made for a lighter, but equally tasty bread.

By the way, the one change I did not make this time around, but it is an option is to add one ounce of wheat germ and increase the water by one ounce. The idea here was to further increase the whole grain content, but since I didn’t have any wheat germ on hand I skipped over that. If you happen to have some on hand, however, it is a good addition.

Flaxseeds after a quick go round in the Vitamix

The required flaxseeds can be easily cracked or ground in a spice grinder (I have an old Cuisinart that is just large enough) or now I run them through my Vitamix using the Dry Grains Container. This container is great for making your own flour – think about the oat or chickpea flours, or superfine sugar that you can produce at home as you need it — saving your valuable time and preventing waste. The container is a pricey item (it has a special blade built into it) so you’ll want to shop around for the best price.

The dough after mixing

The remaining dough ingredients are pretty typical – yeast, water, honey, and salt. The honey provides a nice subtle sweetness and helps to enrich the color of the finished bread. I decided to experiment with a specialty pink salt that I picked up on a recent visit to Sur La Table. I must admit that I’m a neophyte when it comes to salt and didn’t have enough appreciation for this humble but essential ingredient. Although I know it is important to how our food tastes, I can’t say that I’ve ever done a taste test to compare different varieties, of which there are many. I read a very interesting article which includes an interview with Mark Bitterman, author of the book titled Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral (a James Beard award winner by the way). I’m now intrigued and looking to get my hands on the book as I rethink my use of kosher salt and begin exploring other types of salt to use in my cooking.

If you’ve read and used enough of Rose’s yeast bread recipe’s you will be familiar with her basic techniques. The highlights for this recipe are a pretty rapid first rise – mine took less than an hour to double, followed by a beatdown and shaped second rise which also took less than an hour. I then popped it in the oven for 40 minutes at 375°.

 

The finished Flaxseed Loaf…time for a sandwich

On a closing note, I had a “duh” moment this weekend so I want to share that bit of learning with you. I finally realized that in addition to checking out physical books from my local library, I can also borrow e-books for free. Our Los Angeles library system (and many others as I understand it) enable you to borrow Kindle books which you can read on any Kindle-compatible device. If you don’t already have a copy of Rose’s book and want to take it for a free test drive, check to see if you can get it through your local library’s e-book lending service.

 

Are you finding ways to get more whole grains and healthful ingredients into your baked goods?  How are you doing it, and how is it working for you?

Monthly Blog Post: Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers December 2016

This is our final Bread Bible project for 2016, and I must say that being a part of Rose’s Bread Bible Bakers has been a real treat.  In addition to baking and eating some great breads, being part of a fantastic bread baking community, and continuing my growth as a baker, I’ve also had the opportunity to broaden my bread comfort zone if you will.  I do want to give a special shout-out and thank you to the members of our bread baking community.  We are a fantastic international group of bakers, and if you want to join the remainder of our journey just click on the link here.  I’ve posted below a photographic summary of our activity since May.  Although I’ve been baking from this book for several years, through this bake-along I’ve tried several recipes for breads that initially did not appeal to me, but will now become part of my repertoire.  Our December bread is a great example.

I have never been a fan of rye bread — I suspect my dislike perhaps came from a bad childhood experience.  I have a vague recollection of something my mother said was rye bread that I didn’t like, and I never tried it again.  I actually thought about taking a pass on this one, but I am so glad that I didn’t.  I type this as I finish eating a slice adorned with butter only, having had a tasty smoked turkey sandwich with my homemade cranberry chutney earlier in the day.

img_0140“Levy’s” Real Jewish Rye was a real treat with a nice crispy crust and moist golden brown interior.  By the way, I think the secret to the beautiful color of this bread is from using barley malt syrup which I buy from King Arthur Flour. The taste of rye flour is very subtle in this bread as there is roughly 20% rye flour with the remainder being white bread flour.  I used my beloved Artisan Bread Flour from KAF and Organic Rye Flour from Arrowhead Mills.  I will confess that I forgot to pick up the caraway seeds so that was the one change to the recipe as I didn’t want to go back out in the rain for them — and yes, thankfully it does rain in Southern California.

The recipe directs you to leave the sponge and flour mixture for four hours before mixing.  I was delayed returning home, so mine sat at room temperature for approximately six hours.  When I mixed the dough, I did find it a bit wetter than usual so I had to add a good bit more bread flour.  I suspect it was a result of our cool, damp weather and the excess time at room temperature.  My dough rose quite rapidly which is one of the benefits I find of using the SAF Red Instant Yeast.  If you haven’t tried it, I love that you don’t need to proof it, it’s very economical, and it usually gets results at the faster end of the time range given in your recipes.  I often find myself baking at night so I can bake and get to sleep sooner which is a plus.

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This bread was a real winner, and I’ll look forward to baking it again in the future.  It is definitely proof that our childhood perceptions can be wrong.  I am looking forward to baking our remaining bake-along recipes in the New Year ahead as well as working on my #piegoals.  You’ll be hearing about them soon on the blog.  In the meantime, let me know your baking goals for the New Year.  I wish you the only best in all of your endeavors.

P.S. — I’m so excited and ready to break into my happy dance!  Our January recipe is one of my long-time favorites.  Yipee!