Saturday, January 16, 2010

Roma's Brown Bread

Here is the bread that I make that Roma seems to enjoy, especially when it is covered with peanut butter. I got the recipe from an old standby, a book I've had for nearly twenty years. It's called Quick Vegetarian Pleasures (HarperCollins, 1992) by Jeanne Lemlin. The recipe is called Irish Brown Bread. The bread is a quick bread, which means it contains no yeast and does not have to sit and rise several hours before it goes into the oven. As a result, the bread is dense, rough, and crumby, and the crust is thin but crunchy. It's delicious toasted with butter or crumbled into soup. Here is the recipe as I make it:

One and one quarter cups unbleached flour, plus some for sprinkling
One cup whole wheat flour
One half cup rolled oats
One quarter cup toasted wheat germ (Note: If you space out, like I do in the grocery store, and buy wheat bran, you can use it instead. You can toast the bran or germ in a saucepan or skillet on the stovetop. Again, if you space out it will burn, so be careful. Still, the burned bits add lots of flavor.)
One and one half teaspoons of baking soda
Three-quarters teaspoons salt
Four tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter (Note: I have cholesterol issues, so I use heart smart butter spread instead.)
One and one-third cup buttermilk or plain, low-fat yogurt (Again, butter fat is not my friend, so I use yogurt.)

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease and dust a baking sheet with flour. Set aside.

2) Mix dry ingredients (flour, oats, wheat germ/bran, baking soda, salt) together in a bowl.

3) Cut butter into bits and work with your fingers into the flour. It will feel crumbly, not sticky.

4) Stir in the b. milk or the yogurt. Now the dough will feel very sticky. You are supposed to turn the dough out on to the counter top or bread stone to knead for one minute, adding flour as necessary. However, if you have used bran and yogurt, the dough is really too sticky. Instead, I knead it in the bowl until I can make a cohesive ball of dough.

5) Place the ball on the baking sheet. Pat it down to make a circle 7 inches in diameter. You can sprinkle flour on the top of the loaf. Cut an X lightly into the top of the loaf. Bake 30 minutes (up to 37 minutes if your oven is slow to heat up or your dough is particularly sticky).

6) Cool the baked loaf two hours before cutting. Cut in thick slices and slather with peanut butter or hummus. Give bites to the dog. Watch the dog wag her tail.

Enjoy! -z

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