Thursday, November 10, 2011

Whole Wheat, Millet and Dried Fruit Bread

I love bread.  I love mixing it, kneading it, baking it, smelling it and eating it.  Again, I love bread.  This is one of my favorite breads.  It comes from the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois (2009).  I love the book, but I do want to say there is nothing 5 minutes a day about it.  Their idea is that it takes 5 minutes of active time, however, don't think you can get home from work, spend 5 minutes and have it in and out of the oven in time for dinner.  It takes a good 90 minutes to rise and then 40 minutes to bake, that is after you've mixed it and let it rise for 2 hours and sit in the fridge for 24 hours.
Now, don't let my rambling scare you off from this recipe.  It is great to put together on a Saturday and then bake on Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday, and Wednesday.  It makes 4 loaves ( I usually bake two at a time).  You can half the recipe, but trust me you will want all four.  The idea is you mix together a batch of dough and it lasts in the fridge for 7 days, and some recipes in the book up to 2 weeks.
This loaf is a dense whole wheat loaf with millet and dried fruit.  I change up the dried fruit depending on what I have in my pantry and that depends on what is on sale.  I love this toasted and a smear of cream cheese sends it over the top.  Did I say this was so good?
The directions are long, but really it doesn't take that much time to put together, the long part is giving it the time to raise.

Toasted Millet and Fruit Bread:
adapted from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, Jeff Hertzberg, M.D. and Zoe Francois (2009)
Makes enough dough for at least five 1-pound loaves.  This recipe is easily doubled or halved. 

1 cup millet
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated yeast, or 2 packets
1 1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
3 3/4 cups lukewarm water
3 cups mixed dried fruit (I used cranberries, cherries, apricots, and dates)

1.  Mixing and storing the dough:  Before mixing, toast the millet in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring and shaking constantly until it turns golden brown.  Whisk together millet, flours, brown sugar, yeast, salt and vital wheat gluten in a 5 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2.  Add the water and fruit and mix without kneading, using a spoon, a 14 cup food processor (with dough attachment), or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle).  You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you're not using a machine.

3. Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.

4.  The dough must be refrigerated for at least 24 hours before use.  Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 7 days.

5.  On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flower and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece.  Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarte-turn as you go.  Because of the millet and drid fruit the loaf will never be perfectly smooth.

6.  Elongate the ball into a narrow oval.  Allow the loaf to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, on a pizza peel prepared with flour or lined with parchment paper for 90 minutes.  I use a non sided cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal to aid in sliding.

7.  Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. with a baking stone placed on the middle rack.  Place an empty metal broiler tray on any other rack that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8.  Just before baking, use a pasty brush to paint the top with water.  Slash the top with 1/4 inch deep parallel cuts, using a serrated bread knife.

9.  Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone (or slide the parchment paper and dough onto the stone).  Pour 1 cup hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door.  Bake about 40 minutes until richly browned and firm. If you use parchment paper, you want to peel it off about 2/3 of the way through baking.

10.  Allow to cool before slicing, if you can.  I always mangle the first loaf because I can't wait for it to cool enough.

This book and the first book by these two authors are great books if you like bread. There is a recipe for a pumpkin pie brioche that I make for Thanksgiving dinner, and a whole wheat baguette we eat almost every week.  I have both books and use them about once a week.

November 10          Daylight  6 hours,  53minutes,  29seconds          current temp. 18ºF

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