Sunday, August 08, 2010

Pumpkin and Sesame Seed Peasant Bread

Freshly baked bread reminds me of my Nana. Whenever we visited her house I associated it with two smells: that glorious promise of a crusty loaf wafting out of the oven, and the less pleasant smell of my grandfather's cigarettes. She would bake loaves, four at a time, each Sunday. After Nana died, I thought the smell of bread would disappear too... but even a decade later, I could still catch whiffs of it.

 It made me smile, and it felt like she wasn't actually gone.

The first finished loaf.

This isn't her recipe for bread, but one I tinkered around with today. Enjoy!

Pumpkin and Sesame Seed  Peasant Bread

3 cups all purpose flour + more for kneading and dusting
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tsp quick rising yeast
1¼ cups warm water (100ºF or there about)
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
2 tbsp neutral flavoured oil
1½ tsp salt

1. In a large bowl, stir together 3 cups flour with seeds and yeast. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, stir together water, honey, oil and salt; pour into flour mixture and stir until a sticky dough forms.

2. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead for about 5-10 minutes until it feels elastic, adding additional flour a tablespoon at a time, to keep the dough from sticking to hands and surface. I used about 3 tbsp to achieve the right consistency. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the whole ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free location (I used the top of my fridge) for about 1-1½ hours, until doubled in bulk.

Dough ball on parchment
 3. Punch the dough down and turn onto lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into two equal pieces, form each into a ball. Place each ball on its own piece of floured parchment paper. Make sure the parchment is cut large enough to accommodate a second rising of the dough. Cover the two dough balls with plastic wrap, then top with a clean tea towel. Set aside to rise for 50 minutes.

4. About 20 minutes into the dough's second rise, preheat the oven to 450º. Place one oven rack on the bottom, and one in the middle. On the bottom rack, place a baking dish (I used an 8" square one, because it's what I have), and on the middle place a baking stone (I used my pizza stone) or baking sheet. Bring about 2 cups of water to a simmer in a pot. You'll be pouring this into the baking dish on the bottom rack to create steam - which will in turn create a chewier, crispier crust.

5. Once the dough has once again doubled in bulk, dust their tops lightly with flour. Then prepare for an intricate ballet. Transfer each piece of dough (still on the parchment) to the baking stone in the middle of the oven. My baking stone only had room for one loaf at a time, so during the baking time, I left the other covered on my counter. Working quickly (or with someone), pour hot water into the baking dish on the bottom shelf. As soon as the water hits the baking tray, it will create a ton of steam. You want to capture as much of that in the oven as possible.

6. Bake bread for about 30 minutes, until brown. You can test for doneness one of two ways: using an instant read thermometer (about 190ºF) or tapping the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it's done. Let cool completely on a rack.

Finished product. Marvel at your abilities!
 Enjoy with pate, cheese, chutney and pears for a totally delicious Ploughman's Lunch.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...