Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
- John Lennon
A workshop in Italy just one short week away and another in the planning, a book proposal I should be writing furiously and blog posts galore. Not to mention the broken refrigerator that found me kneeling on the floor mopping up the growing puddle emanating from the hidden darkness underneath, cursing and grumbling much to my husband's amusement (don't even ask) and wondering what to do with the ice cream, frozen French fries and Chinese potstickers now growing warm and soft. Baking bread was the last thing on my mind.
But as the sixteenth of each month rolls around, approaching much more quickly than any other day of the month, methinks, the yeast beckons, the flour calls, the sugar coaxes and the oven waxes eloquent. I often loathe taking time out of whatever I am doing, whether big project or small, whether spending time with my family or simply procrastinating, often my favorite activity, to bake. Like a mountain looming in front of me, the very thought of digging through the cupboard and pulling out each ingredient needed, measuring, mixing and kneading just seems the most daunting, exhausting activity I could possibly think of. Which is why every month that Bread Baking Babe challenge gets pushed off to the very last moment when I just can't ignore it anymore, when I just can no longer say "tomorrow".
But this one I am glad I did. Karen, the Babe behind Bake My Day, selected for the BBB May Challenge a very easy, very fast, very savory loaf from Peter Reinhart. Studded with intensely fragrant dried onion flakes and with the addition of cooked grains, the Wild Rice and Onion Bread is the perfect bread to throw together and bake when time, focus and energy might be lacking. Five minutes is all it took to prepare before it a slow fermentation and rise in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Yet there was that busted refrigerator that, like an old car on its last leg, sputtering and knocking, groaning and complaining under the effort made to get moving, we had to keep kick starting life into the damn thing. So my dough, which had started a beautiful rise in the cold by morning when I took it out to come to room temperature before shaping was… already room temperature. So my bread, while delicious, was rather dead. It baked to a nice consistent texture yet had that chewiness of an unrisen dough. I will make this again once our new refrigerator is delivered – tomorrow! – because I do love a savory bread that pairs so beautifully with cheese. Or dipped into gravy.
Go ahead and check out all the other Babes' Wild Rice and Onion Bread and then you will really want to bake it for yourself. And if you do, visit Karen's blog to learn how to earn your Bread Baking Buddy Badge for May.
Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Lucullian Delights - Ilva
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna
Bread Experience – Cathy
PETER REINHART'S WILD RICE AND ONION BREAD
From Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day
A fragrant, overnight, no-knead dough that bakes up into a wonderful, light, crusty and homey loaf. Replace the dried onion flakes with chopped fresh or caramelized onions, add herbs or seasonings of your choice including parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, garlic powder, and black pepper for the best dinner bread there is. The dough is so easy and quick to put together, and the bread is so fool-proof there is no reason not to bake your own. If you use dried onions, don’t rehydrate them before adding them to the dough, but do be aware that you may have to add an extra 2 to 4 tablespoons (1 to 2 oz) of water while mixing.
6 cups (27 oz / 765 g) unbleached bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (0.6 oz / 17 g) salt, or 3 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 cup (6 oz / 170 g) cooked wild rice or another cooked grain
1/4 cup (2 oz / 56.5 g) brown sugar
2 tablespoons (0.66 oz / 19 g) instant yeast
11/2 cups (12 oz / 340 g) lukewarm water (about 95°F or 35°C)
1/2 cup (4 oz / 113 g) lukewarm buttermilk or any other milk (about 95°F or 35°C)
1/4 cup (1 oz / 28.5 g) minced or chopped dried onions, or 2 cups (8 oz / 227 g) diced fresh onion (about 1 large onion)
1 egg white, for egg wash (optional)
1 tablespoon water, for egg wash (optional)
I halved the recipe, using:
3 cups flour
1 1/8 tsp table salt
¾ cup cooked grains – quinoa/bulgur mix
1/8 cup dried onion flakes
1/8 cup brown sugar
2 tsps active dry yeast
¼ cup warm milk
¾ cup warm water + 1 – 2 Tbs additional water
Prepare the bread dough 1 - 4 days ahead:
Combine all of the ingredients, except the egg wash, in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for 1 minute until all of the dry ingredients are moistened, adding more water one tablespoon at a time as needed. The dough should be sticky, coarse, and shaggy. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking. The dough will still be soft and slightly sticky but will hold together to form a soft, supple ball. Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl (I used olive oil), cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and immediately refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days. (If you plan to bake the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into two or more oiled bowls at this stage.)
On Baking Day:
Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to bake.
Shape the dough into one or more sandwich loaves, using 28 ounces (794 g) of dough for 4 1/2 by 8-inch loaf pans and 36 ounces (1.02 kg) of dough for 5 by 9-inch pans; into freestanding loaves of any size, which you can shape as bâtards, baguettes, or boules; or into rolls, using 2 ounces (56.5 g) of dough per roll. When shaping, use only as much flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking.
For sandwich loaves, proof the dough in greased loaf pans. For freestanding loaves and rolls, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat and proof the dough on the pan.
Mist the top of the dough with spray oil or brush lightly with olive oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until increased to about 1 ½ times its original size. In loaf pans, the dough should dome at least 1 inch above the rim.
If you’d like to make the rolls shinier, whisk the egg white and water together, brush the tops of the rolls or loaves with the egg wash just before they’re ready to bake.
About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C), or 300°F (149°C) for a convection oven.
Bake the loaves for 10 to 15 minutes, then rotate the pan; rotate rolls after 8 minutes. The total baking time is 45 to 55 minutes for loaves, and only 20 to 25 minutes for rolls.
The bread is done when it has a rich golden color, the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and the internal temperature is above 185°F (85°C) in the center. Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes for rolls or 1 hour for loaves before slicing.