Monday, March 24, 2008

Whole Grain Bread Bonanza

DH had a chance this weekend to have a bread baking bonanza! Our house smelled like a bakery, the aromas even carried outside. He made four recipes. Anadama Bread, Whole Wheat Brioche (with chunks of dark chocolate) and Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread from Peter Reinhart's new book, Whole Grain Breads. He also made a batch of ciabatta using a recipe we learned at our class at Johnson & Wales. DH added roasted zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes to the ciabatta. I forgot to photograph the Anadama. It was the first loaf he made, and we ate it all weekend. Luckily, I did put some slices in the freezer to enjoy later.

DH used kefir for the soaker in the above Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin with Walnuts. He found that the 56 grams of flour called for in the final dough recipe was not enough. The bread is so soft and moist with a very deep flavor. Most of the raisins fell apart during the intense kneading required for the dough, so each bite carries the sweetness of the raisins. The walnuts and cinnamon really shine without overpowering the complexity of the slowly fermented whole wheat dough. DH could have formed the bread into visible cinnamon swirl, but decided against it. It turned out nicely, as each bite has an even balance of all of the flavors.

Above and below are close-ups of the Whole Wheat Brioche. It has a rich buttery flavor and consistency. He cut into chunks a small bar of high-end 85% dark chocolate and added it to the dough. What a decadent treat that was! That is how I ate chocolate when I was in France: a little bite of dark chocolate with a big bite of bread.

It's amazing how sweet, soft and flavorful even brioche can be using no white flour or sugar. DH used agave nectar in place of the sugar in these recipes. I can see why loaves of high quality breads cost so much money here in the States. If we were to sell the brioche, for example, we would have to charge a steep price just to break even for the cost of the ingredients, not to mention the time and energy required. But that is why it is art. I am happy and so very lucky that DH has developed such a passion for bread baking.

Above are some slices of the ciabatta which were eaten with some marinated orange tomatoes and slices of cheese. Simplicity can be divine.

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