Friday, September 17, 2010
The Y-Word & Harvest Squash Bread
Since making Soft Pretzels for the first time several months back, which required the use of yeast, I've been having fun finding and making as much use of it as possible. Though I don't blog about it nearly as much as I use it. I figure 'tis the season to change that.
I, like a lot of people, was tentative to start, having heard the lore about how difficult yeast is to work with. I now stand convinced, the bread makers, along with the pie crust and the cheese makers have been working in collusion for years to create and propagate fear in the minds of would-be at-home cooks to keep us buying their products. If they knew that we figured out how relatively easy to make, and delicious their homemade counterparts were, those companies would be in BIG trouble.
Okay, so maybe we wouldn't spend our days and nights in the kitchen kneading dough and bringing milk to temperature in lieu of a store-run, but we would think twice about where our food comes from; What's in it, how it gets to our home and eventually our plate.
I'm all for a revolution on the matter! Now, I'm not going to start it, or plan for it. I'm not that organized. But I will attend and bring snacks. I might not even attend if it's before noon. Or if this is going to require a lot of walking. Or shouting. I don't like loud noises. Or sticks and throwing things. Hey, hey, Let's not get crazy here.
Okay, so maybe a revolt was a bad idea. How about we all just commit to try making something with yeast at least once if you haven't already, as a fun weekend project, some time after noon, in the quiet and peace of your own home.
This dense, chewy, nutty, earthy bread is my 6th and favorite hitherto. I've had it with butter, and then peanut butter, and toasted for breakfast this morning.
*Update: This bread makes the BEST peanut butter & jelly sandwich I've EVER had.
Harvest Squash Bread
Recipe courtesy and adapted from Cookingbread.com
1 acorn squash
2 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
Day before Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
Day of Ingredients
2 3/4 to 3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup mashed squash ( above )
2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 Teaspoon Maple Syryp
1/4 cup flax meal (Ground Flax)
2 tablespoon flax seeds
*Total yeast will be one packet if using packet.
Cut acorn squash into half, lengthwise. Remove seeds with spoon. Using a fork, make holes around interior of the squash.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place squash onto parchment-lined cookie sheet (one with sides), or baking dish. Add piece of butter to each half of squash. Divide between two halves of squash, brown sugar and maple syrup. If using baking dish, add an inch or two of water to pan.
Add pan with squash to preheated oven and bake 1 hour or until squash feels soft when inserted with fork. If there are any juices remaining in squash, carefully pour into small bowl and reserve. Scoop inside of squash into separate bowl, reserving 1 cup, and mash with fork. (This can be done day before along with "day before" mix).
Using wooden spoon, add "day before" ingredients and mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter or stove-top for 12-16 hours, or overnight.
12-16 hours later, or the next day, add mashed squash, water, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, reserved juices from baked squash (if any remain) and remaining yeast to "day before" mixture with wooden spoon, mix until smooth. To this, add flax meal and flax seeds. Mix until combined well.
Add salt to 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour and combine with fork. Add half of whole wheat flour to mixture and stir until smooth. Slowly add in remaining flour 1 heaping tablespoon at a time. When mixture becomes too difficult to mix, scrape out onto flat surface. Mixture will appear very dry. You may add a little water if needed, but remember that as you knead and squash is incorporated, mixture will become sticky. (Which is what you want.)
Knead dough for 8 minutes. Add in remaining 1/4 cup flour if needed.
After kneading, place kneaded dough into lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat dough. With plastic wrap, cover bowl and leave to sit on counter or stove top for 1 & 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Keep bowl in place with no drafts.
Press to release gas from dough and remove from bowl. Divide into 2 equal parts. Form each half into round dome-shaped balls. Line large cookie sheet (or two small) with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal (if using cornmeal, optional). Place each ball of dough, several inches apart, onto lined cookie sheet. With plastic wrap, cover and allow to double in size, approximately 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove plastic wrap. Using sharp/serrated knife, score bread by making an X-shape into dough. Using egg white that's been beaten until foamy or melted butter, brush tops of dough. (Bread will have a sheen and flax seeds will stay on better after baked if brushed with egg white, but I prefer the flavor of butter.) Sprinkle tops of dough with flax seeds.
Place bread into oven on cookie sheet or baking stone.
On bottom rack inside oven, add cast iron skillet or small baking dish. To skillet or dish add 1 cup of water and close oven door. This will create steam.
Bake 30 minutes or until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped, and tops have lightly browned.