Sunday, July 5, 2009
How I love baking bread. It's so satisfying to feel the rightness of the dough with your hands, and to get into the rhythm of mixing/resting/shaping. The cakes have been a real adventure, and have pushed me beyond my comfort level. It's good to be pushed, but it's also good to return to what feels comfortable and right.
My blog (and now in-person) friend Jini has been telling me about this bread for months, and finally she sent me the recipe. When she did, I realized it came from a cookbook I already own: Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland, by Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson, the owner and chef of fabulous local restaurant, Lucia's.
When I bought this cookbook, well over ten years ago, I didn't pay attention to its chapter on breads, because I didn't bake bread at the time. It's a very down-home cookbook, heavily influenced by the immigrant German, Scandinavian, and eastern Europeans who populated Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. The bread chapter contains, for example, recipes for Saint Lucia buns, kolachke, Norwegian toast, and Finnish cardamom coffee bread. This first recipe, Dakota bread, has made me want to return and try more.
The Dakota bread is from a St. Paul institution, Cafe Latte, a cafeteria/bakery/coffee shop/wine bar, that's especially well-known for its breads and cakes. This bread is a customer favorite, and for good reason: it's soft and light, but every bite has a different combination of crunch and taste because it's got four different seeds: sunflower, poppy, pumpkin, and sesame, as well as cracked wheat.
Even with all the nuts, the dough is very easy to work with. I usually prefer breads with small amounts of yeast and long fermenting times, but this one has two tablespoons of yeast and requires an initial rise of only one hour, then a rest.
After the dough is shaped into two loaves, it takes just a half-hour or so to rise again. It's nice to have a bread in your repertoire that comes together this quickly and easily and can be ready in time for lunch.
I made one loaf in a banetton
and one free-form boule.
They looked stunning coming out of the oven because of the shininess of the egg wash and the seeds scattered on top. I followed the recipe exactly, and I liked this combination of seeds, but you could vary them depending on what you have and what you like. Flaxseed would also be good.
It has a nice, even crumb. We ate it plain, with a little butter, this afternoon, but it looks like it will also be good for toast and an excellent sandwich bread. Jini also uses this recipe to make rolls, and I think they'd make perfect hamburger buns as well.
--from Savoring the Seasons of the Northern
Heartland, by Beth Dooley & Lucia Watson.
2 cups warm water
2 scant tablespoons yeast (instant or active dry)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cracked wheat
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or more for kneading)
1/2 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
1 beaten egg
In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, oil, and cracked
wheat and allow to proof about 5 to 10 minutes, or until the yeast is
light and bubbly. Add the salt, whole wheat and white flours, and
stir to combine.
Knead by hand, or, using a dough hook, knead in a stand mixer for five to ten minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Mix the seeds together and sprinkle them over the dough, reserving a
few tablespoons to sprinkle over the loaves before baking. Then knead
the seeds into the dough. (If you use the stand mixer, finish kneading by hand for a minute).
Turn the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and allow the dough to rise
until double in bulk, about 1 hour. Press the dough into a rectangle and give it a business-letter turn. Let it rest for 5 minutes.
Place baking stone on rack in lower third of oven, and preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Divide the dough and shape it into two round loaves on lightly floured parchment paper. Let rise 25 to 30 minutes. Brush the loaves with a beaten egg and
sprinkle on any remaining seeds. Slash the tops of the loaves with a razor blade or sharp knife.
Carefully place the loaves, still on parchment, on the baking stone. Add steam by spritzing water in the oven, putting ice cubes on a preheated pan, or adding about a half-cup boiling water in a preheated pan.
Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the loaves are
nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped.
Remove the loaves from the oven and cool on wire racks.