Whole wheat leek and potato bread
I’m on a bread kick right now. I have some nice big, fat leeks available in the hoop house, so here is today’s recipe:
- 1 large leek – not the white part, but the green part that they usually tell you to throw away. (Use the white part in a soup, stew, or omelet.)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium russet potato, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 cup water
Slice up the leek (about 2 cups) and saute in the olive oil for a bit, then put a lid on the pan and steam for several minutes. Pay attention and don’t let them burn, like I nearly did. Boil the potato in the water till soft, then remove and mash up. Save the water – you should have about 3/4 cup left. Process the leeks in a food chopper or food processor. Don’t worry if they seem fibrous, they’ll be fine in the bread.
- 1.25 cups milk or buttermilk or sour milk
- 3/4 cup potato water
- 1 Tbsp yeast
- 1 tsp sugar or honey
Add the hot potato water to the (cold) milk, then add sugar and yeast. Let it set for a few minutes for the yeast to activate. Add the mashed potato and processed leeks.
- 1 cup whole wheat atta (chapati) flour, or bread flour
- 1.5 cups regular whole wheat flour
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
Add the flours and salt gradually to the wet ingredients, first with a heavy spoon or paddle, then with your hands. I always start with the atta, then alternate with the whole wheat and all-purpose flours. Knead for about 4 to 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add more all-purpose flour. You want the dough to be rather soft. Let it rise in a warm (not hot) location for about an hour, covered with a damp cloth. After it has doubled in size add the olive oil and knead briefly. You may need to add a little more flour. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with your damp cloth, and let rise again for about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 400 F. Oil a cookie sheet or baking stone, and turn the dough out on it. You can shape up the loaf a bit, and slash the top if you like. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes at 400 F, then turn down to 350 F for about 40 minutes. Brush with olive oil or butter when you take it out and let it cool for 20 minutes before you slice it.
Well winter has arrived in typical Oklahoma fashion – one day it’s 65 degrees and the next day it is 15. At least it didn’t arrive along with a horrific ice storm! The garden beds are covered, and we are harvesting some greens, beets, green onions, cilantro, parsley, and radishes. This is supplemented by the last of our tomatoes and of course plenty of garlic.
Undercover garden beds
With one or two nights in the teens and several in the 20’s the fennel seedlings and young mustard greens are not very happy, even in the tunnels. However, the lettuce, bok choi, and arugula seem unphased. At a holiday gathering a friend mentioned how much he loved arugula and how expensive it was at his grocery. It occurred to me that I could quit my job and make a living growing arugula – it is so ridiculously easy to grow!
With the arrival of cold weather (and some discussion with Matthew in Vladivostok) I have been motivated to try my hand with Russian black bread. Mike and I bought a loaf of so-called black bread at the Central Market in Dallas last weekend. Although it was a beautiful dark loaf, it was disappointing, taste-wise (too “Americanized” to really be Russian black bread). So I research some recipes on the Internet and read about it in my bread book, and then came up with the recipe that follows. This is a dense, pungent, and slightly sour black bread. It is excellent sliced thin and eaten open-faced with egg salad, smoked salmon spread, etc., and also toasted and buttered. It won’t work so well as a sandwich bread.
- 1.5 cups sourdough sponge starter*
- 2 cups rye flour
- 1 cup bran cereal, crushed/ground in blender
- 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
- 1.5 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
- 3 Tbsp espresso ground coffee
- 2 Tbsp dried onion powder
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 2 tsp ground fennel seed
- 2 tsp ground caraway seed
- 4 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1.5 cups dark beer
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup butter
*There are various ways to make a sourdough starter, but this one is a classic.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together.
- Warm the beer, water, and vinegar up in the microwave or in a pan until warm (not boiling).
- Gradually add the dry ingredients to the sourdough sponge, alternating with the liquid. The dough will be quite sticky.
- Spread a good layer of unbleached white flour on a cotton dishtowel and dump the dough onto it. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and begin kneading. Knead for about 5 minutes, incorporating as much flour as you can.
- Oil a large bowl and place the kneaded dough in it, cover with the dishtowel, and place in a warm place.
- After the dough has almost doubled* punch it down and knead again, adding more flour if necessary, and kneading in the 1/4 cup of butter.
- Shape into loaves (I made three small round loaves), place on an oiled cookie sheet, and cover once more with the dishtowel. Let rise until almost doubled.
- Cook in a 350 degree oven about 40 – 50 minutes. (This is a dense bread, and it won’t sound “hollow” when tapped.)
*The amount of time it will take for your dough to rise depends upon how “active” your sourdough sponge is, and how warm the room is.