There are few virtues a man can possess more erotic than culinary skill.
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses
by Isabel Allende

Starting in November of 2009 Michelle at the Big Black Dog formed a group to bake its way through Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Zoë François and Jeff Hertzberg. I loved Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, so I signed up with the group. Michelle first had us do a couple of warm-up assignments, which were my first attempt at blogging. The first "Official" post was on January 15, 2010, and it was followed by 41 more, on the 1st and 15th of each month. When I signed on I said I would bake the whole book, and like Horton (the elephant) I meant what I said and I said what I meant. I finished baking the book on October 1, 2011. Having completed that challenge, now I am just going to do some stuff, and post about it. As part of that stuff Michelle is posing a new, and different, challenge for us each month.

I am still baking bread, mostly the Five Minutes a Day kind, and if you would like to try the Five Minutes a Day bread method there are some links, with recipes, in the right hand column to get you started. Please give it a try.

But first, a word from my sponsor . . .
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One person, Greg Craven, has suggested changing the question from "which side is right" to "what is the wisest thing to do given the uncertainties and the risks involved?" To me, this seems like a very productive way to refocus the conversation. So, if you are confused about, concerned by, or interested in the issue of global warming please take a few minutes to watch his VIDEO. If you find it interesting or helpful, please pass it on to others.

This day be bread and peace my lot.
Alexander Pope

How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?

Julia Child

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough but not baked in the same oven.
Yiddish proverb
(And some are only half baked.)

There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
George Bernard Shaw, via Sharon

Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.
George Herbert

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bran Muffin Bread and Oatmeal Date Bread (38 of 42)

 (This is a photo of one of my glads--after a bout with Photoshop)
A friend of mine, John, who was in China at the time, tipped me off to a really neat talk on TED by Nathan Myhrvold.  It is about his new cookbook, Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.  Myhrvold is a former Microsoft chief technology officer.  His twist is that he likes to cut stuff in half, to show how things work.  Unlike my glads, above, he actually cuts everything in half, no Photoshop!

Before you run out to pick up a copy of Modernist Cuisine, you might want to take along a wheelbarrow.  The book is in hardcover, six volumes, 2,438 pages, weighs 40 pounds and has a list price of $625.  So you would need the wheelbarrow both to carry your cash to the store and to carry the book home.  (You can get it from Amazon for about $475, which not only saves you $150, but it qualifies for Free Super Saver Shipping!) 

But talk, as they say, is cheap, and in this case the TED talk is free, and is worth watching for the cool pictures, especially the popcorn and the ballistic gel.

Included in the book is a recipe for a 30-hour hamburger.  
 The Wall Street Journal has a cool Interactive Guide to the burger. 

I would observe, however, that 30 hours to make a burger makes 5 Minutes a Day for Healthy Artisan bread a real time-saver, and a pretty great deal since the HB in 5 book lists for about $600 less than Modernist Cuisine.

Now on to the baking.  Both breads this time are more like quick breads or nut breads, but healthier.  And we thought both breads were excellent!

The first bread I baked was the  Oatmeal Date Bread.  In addition to the dates I also added the optional nuts, so this really was a nut bread, and it was very, very good.  The first choice in the recipe for the Oatmeal was Steel-Cut Oats, which we just love.  According to Wikipedia, "Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into only two or three pieces by steel rather than being rolled. They are golden in color and resemble small rice pieces."  I use Steel-Cut Oats to make oatmeal in my rice cooker--1 1/4 cups oats, 3 cups of water in the cooker the night before, then cook on the porridge cycle.  My rice cooker has a timer, so it is ready when we are. (As a side note, I have noticed that adding some dried fruit, dates are good, or a bit of oil seems to help control the foaming and potential overflow in the rice cooker.)  Steel-Cut Oatmeal is easy to make stove-top too, however, they just take some time to cook.  Putting them to soak the night before can help. See, for example Steel-Cut Oatmeal.   The Wikipedia article notes that "[t]he flavor of the cooked oats is described as being nuttier than other types of oats, and they are also chewier."    We concur.  

This bread is baked in a loaf pan, and in the spirit of  Modernist Cuisine, here is my cut-in-half loaf pan.
  And here is the finished product. 

The second loaf was the Bran Muffin Bread.  As is our wont, although I cut the recipe in half, I kept the spices, in this case cinnamon and nutmeg,  at full throttle, maybe even a bit more, since the whole grain can mute the flavors. In addition to the spices the recipe called for raisins, but I think other dried fruit would work well too.  This recipe used a higher proportion of AP flour to WW flour, and was enriched with eggs and oil and sweetened with maple syrup and molasses.   The resulting loaf, which was baked freeform but at 350 rather than 450, was very tender. 

Since I had so far only used half of each batch of bread, I used the balance to make mini loaves.

I had formed the dough for the first loaf of the Oatmeal Date Bread right after it was finished rising, and put it in the fridge overnight so I could make it first thing in the morning.  When I went to use the second half it had gotten much more dry and stiff.  I think that the whole wheat and the oats must have absorbed more moisture as it sat.  I worked in some more water to loosen it up a bit and help it rise, but you can see that the two Oatmeal Date loaves of the right still did not rise quite as much as the Bran Muffin dough. 
They all tasted good, however.

In addition to the baking for this assignment, I also baked a loaf in my mini-wood-fired-earth-oven (Beta), which you can see at Baking 5 Minute a Day Bread in a Wood-fired Earth Oven.  In addition, I baked a baguette on my gas grill!  Jeff has a video on the AB in 5 site,
New Video: Barbecued Baguette on the Gas Grill for the DogDays of Summer, and I followed his directions.  I really recommend that you give this a try.  The bread turned out great, and was quick since there was no rising time and it baked grilled in less than 20 minutes (I grilled mine for 16 minutes: 6 on the first side, then I turned it over and grilled it for 10 more).

  So that is what I have been doing on my summer vacation.  And now we have just 4 assignments to go, so those of you who have some catching up to do, you know who you are, you better get busy.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Lot's of great info! I'll have to check out that video. I haven't made the bran muffin bread yet, but I did enjoy the oatmeal date bread. I made my version with KAMUT instead of WW. I'm envious of your wood-fired earth oven. I'll definitely have to check that out.