Sunday, April 17, 2011

Swirl Bread

How do you bring some sunshine to a rainy weekend? Cook up this playful loaf. It’s Honey Butter Oatmeal Bread and Dark Pumpernickel Bread swirled together to create an eye-pleasing spiral inside your loaf. Too fun!

Baking bread isn’t hard necessarily, but the yeast is a bit particular, and the rising process is time consuming. So make sure you have bad weather, and find some other activities to round out this daylong endeavor. Watch a movie, go skiing, or take a nap, for example. Organize your sock drawer, maybe?

I opted in for the onion in the pumpernickel loaf. Combined with the molasses, rye and whole wheat flours, whole caraway seeds, and cocoa powder, it’s a very flavorful & distinct bread. The oatmeal loaf is considerably more neutral, and the subtle honey and oat get overwhelmed by the flavor of the darker bread. At least it’s there for the color (and would be delicious on its own)…you have to have yin and yang.

Combine the yeast with warm water and sweetener. Let it sit 3-5 minutes to allow it to bloom (it’s really cool to watch it bubble and grow).

Then knead. With no dough-hook on my mixer, I had to put serious elbow grease into the kneading. Ten minutes on one loaf, and half an hour on another. I popped a movie in. The dark loaf was quite sticky, and needed quite a lot of additional flour to be worked in.

Cover and let rise. The dark loaf went wild, rising like crazy. On the other hand, I worried that I had over-developed the gluten in the white loaf, as it remained like a rock in my oiled bowl. So I went skiing...and my patience paid off. The dough had risen—the test is to push your finger in, and the dough should be spongy and not spring back right away.

At this point, it’s time to divide the loaves into balls, and roll out the dough into rectangles.

Then stack one bread on top of the other and roll up jelly-roll style.

Let rise (again) in loaf pans before baking. Brush loaves with egg before going in the oven.

Finally, bake (and nap). And 35-40 minutes later, when the buzzer sounds, you wake to a delightful loaf and heavenly smells.

I enjoyed many reiterations of this bread throughout the week. Slices of swirl bread make a great base to a ham-mustard-cheese-sprouts sandwich. I also enjoyed it toasted with butter, smothered in homemade high bush cranberry and rosehip jam.

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