Still Life with Dragon Tongue Beans
Like the last assignment, both breads this time have fruit in them, and this time both have whole grains as well. I baked the Brown Rice Prune Bread first. If you suffer from Beriberi or constipation, or both, this is the bread for you! But from a marketing standpoint Jeff and Zoë should perhaps have eschewd the "prune" moniker. Wikipedia notes that
Dried prune marketers in the United States have, in recent years, begun marketing their product as "dried plums". This is due to "prune" having negative connotations connected with elderly people suffering from constipation.So, since I am neither elderly nor costive (too much information??), I baked Brown Rice
In addition to the diced dried plums the majority of the liquid in the dough (three-fourths of it) was dried plum juice (which sounds like an oxymoron). Thus, while whole wheat flour often mutes the flavorings in some of our bread, I thought that the dried plum flavor was fairly pronounced in this bread. It is a matter of person taste whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.
My first loaf was a batard, and it baked up nicely.
If you look closely, you can see the grains of brown rice (which was cooked before being incorporated into the dough) in the slices.
I baked the rest of the (half) batch as a loaf, using a new smaller loaf pan I got. It is 7 1/2" by 3 3/4". I got it to better fit a half of a half batch (or a quarter of a full batch). It is not non-stick, but I sprayed it liberally and had no problem.
The first bread had whole brown rice in it, the second one has whole toasted millet. Millet is usually used in this country as bird food or animal forage, but in other parts of the world it is a staple food grain. According to Wikipedia, millet has been cultivated for over 10,000 years and, like several other grains we have used, is an important food crop in many areas of the world due to the fact that is can be grown in difficult conditions, especially drought. According to the article, "palaeoethnobotanists hypothesize that the cultivation of millets was of greater prevalence in prehistory than rice, especially in northern China and Korea." The article observes that
some of the earliest evidence of millet cultivation in China was found at Cishan (north) and Hemudu (south). Cishan dates for common millet husk phytoliths and biomolecular components have been identified around 8300–6700 BC in storage pits along with remains of pit-houses, pottery, and stone tools related to millet cultivation. Evidence at Cishan for foxtail millet dates back to around 6500 BC. A 4,000-year-old well-preserved bowl containing well-preserved noodles made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet was found at the Lajia archaeological site in China.Millet has the same amount of protein as wheat, but no gluten. It can be ground into flour but the Wikipedia article notes it is also often eaten as a porridge, especially in Russian, German and Chinese cuisines. Millet can also be made into beer! Speaking of beer, I heartily recommend A History of the World in 6 Glasses which traces the historical impact of beer, wine, tea, coffee, distilled spirits and Coke. The book is fascinating, and includes this tidbit from the 1996 annual report of The Coca Cola Company:
A billion hours ago, human life appeared on earth.This is no longer true of course. According to a company fact sheet, Coke now sells 1.7 billion servings a day.
A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged.
A billion seconds ago, the Beatles changed music forever.
A billion Coca-Colas ago, was yesterday morning.
Back to millet, to make millet porridge you toast it and then cook it in liquid until it is soft. Mother Earth News had an article about Millet, Tap the Culinary Wisdom of our Ancestors: Discover Millet, with several recipes, including one for Sunshine Millet Porridge with Apricots and Carrots. Millet is also great as a side dish.
I have many loves in my life. I love my Saintly Wife. I love my beautiful and brilliant daughters. And I love my Rice Cooker. In The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook: 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risottos, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings, and More, from Start to Finish in Your Rice Cooker the authors suggest first toasting a cup of millet in a dry skillet until it starts to darken a bit and the grains begin to pop, 4-5 minutes, just as we did for this bread recipe. Then dump the millet into cold water, swirl it about and drain it. From there it is into your rice cooker set on the regular cycle with 1 3/4 cups of water and a pat of butter. I have made this, and it is really very good. If you do not have a rice cooker--get one! And the above cookbook to go with it. But you should be able to do the same thing stovetop, and since you already have the millet for making this bread, give it a try.
In addition to the toasted millet this bread calls for mixed dried fruit, and the recipe suggests small whole fruit--raisins, craisins, and dried cherries. So that is what I used. When I mixed the dough it seemed pretty wet, but the dried fruit absorbed some of the liquid and it was a good consistency on Baking Day. I baked both loaves of this bread at the same time, one free-form and one in my new loaf pan.
Both came out nicely. The millet was a bit crunchy and the fruit mix was nice. And as you can see, there was a lot of fruit. We deemed this bread a success.