Tuscan bread

Posted: November 20, 2011 in vegan recipes
Tags: ,

I’m making lasagne tonight, which I haven’t done in ages.  It’s easy.  Make my Pasta Pazool Sauce.  Boil water.  Add lasagne noodles.  In a pan, layer sauce, noodle, cheese, repeat.  Bake at 350 until you can’t stand how good it smells and you have to take it out and eat it.

I have two goals for this bread…one, is I’ve been meaning to make stupidly simple yeasted bread by hand for awhile.  Mark’s bread machine worked great for me at my old apartment and has made nothing but bricks since I moved in a year and a half ago.  This is my first yeasted bread by hand.  I wanted my own crusty bread with my fabuloso lasagne.

The second reason is I’m planning on making ratatouille bread pudding for Thanksgiving, and it calls for stale bread.  (I’m ensuring that there’s a NON-STARCH VEGETABLE on the table this year.  My stepmother-in-law has usually loved to do a big full-blown-invite-seventy-thousand-people-and-pull-out-the-finest-china every year.  She and my FIL eat meat, of course.  Last year, there was a lovely turkey, cranberry sauce, and starch.  I know….it’s the American way.  On my plate were no less than three types of potatoes, a tossed romaine with a cherry tomato and two breads.  My SMIL is a great cook, and bless her heart for cooking for everyone….god knows, I don’t want to. I’m just gonna mix some vegetables in with the orgy of starch.)

The ratatouille bread pudding was a suggestion from a patient.  It takes ages for store-bought bread in wrappers to go stale because it’s full of formaldehyde or whatever.  And why get the store bought bread that doesn’t decay when I wanted to try Tuscan bread anyway?

I suspect this recipe is called ‘Tuscan bread’ only because that’s a sexy thing in cooking.  Probably best to call this bread ‘Neolithic bread’ because they’ve likely been doing bread this way since then.  Only they didn’t have the benefit of candy thermometers to check temperatures.

vegan, gluten +

source:  Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand by Beatrice Ojekangas

For a large loaf:

  • 1 1/3c water
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 3 c bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp active dry yeast (rapid-rising for bread machine)
  • glug olive oil, which i used to “grease” the bowls, and invariably got kneaded in with bread

TO MIX THE DOUGH BY HAND:

Heat the water unitl warm, bet 105 and 115 degF.  Pour it into a large, warmed bowl, and add the yeast.  Let stand 5 minutes, until the yeast begins to bubble.  Slowly add the whole wheat flour and half the bread flour.  Beat until a smooth dough forms.  Cover, and let stand 15 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board and knead, adding the remaining flour as necessary, until smooth and springy….about 5 minutes.  Wash the bowl and grease it; place the dough back in the bowl, and turn it over to grease the top.  Cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  Shape into a loaf and bake at 400 deg for 15 – 20 mins.

This is good basic bread.  I didn’t end up using nearly as much bread flour as expected, and maybe I should have?  The dough was stiff once I added some of the bread flour, so I couldn’t quite get 1 1/2 c absorbed….I got maybe 1/2 c.  After 15 mins, the middles of my breads were sort of damp still, while the crusts were golden and fabulous looking.  I cooked a little longer, but I guess ‘Tuscan bread’ is poofy with lots of holes in my mind.  Ojekangas says in the beginning that she cut the yeast in half because there’s no salt, so it doesn’t “rise out of control”.  Maybe I’ll add more yeast next time, cos I was lookin for poofier, holier bread.  But this bread is very good.

By the way, this is a fantastic book.  Ojekangas gives you instructions on every bread recipe for three sizes, small, medium and large….and multiple ways of making each.  You can mix by hand, in a mixer or food processor…and then baking three ways….in bread machine, oven or on baking tiles.

That is a photo of 6 year old me with my 90something year old great grandmother.  She was blind by the time that photograph was taken, and we made nine loaves of bread from scratch that day.

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