Not that I've ever grown any form of wheat or grain, but when Autumn really begins to lay its hands on us... I'm talking cool, crisp air...colorful leaves in the trees and crunching under foot...pumpkins and gourds adorning porches...tombstones and giant spiders, ghosts and scarecrows around every corner...goblins and ghouls walking the streets... it's then that I can imagine walking through the fields with a scythe. Huge baskets and bundles filled past the brim with stalks of wispy grains. Securing bundles with twine. Arm muscles bulging from constant mashing and grinding by hand. Loaves of hearty, rustic bread scenting the air and nourishing hard working bodies. When I think Autumn, I think harvest. Oh Autumn. How do I love thee?
Although I didn't grow, harvest, or grind any of the grains for this bread, I did knead them into this beautifully elastic, fragrant dough. A dough that scented the kitchen with the smell of Autumn before it was even placed in a hot oven. And once it was baked, it was nutty and earthy and just the thing I wanted on this brisk Autumn day. I can imagine forming the dough into individual rolls next time, to show case the beautiful crust that forms during baking. As a matter of fact, I may add them to the Thanksgiving menu this year. I think they would fit perfectly with the beautiful bounty of the season.
Seeded Mixed Brown Bread
slightly adapted from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
yield: 2 loaves
1½ c. warm water
2¼ tsp. (1 - ¼ oz. packet) active dry yeast
2 tsp. honey
1½ Tbs. olive oil
1 c. spelt flour
¾ c. buckwheat flour
¾ c. rye flour
⅔ c. whole wheat flour
¾ c. bread flour
1 Tbs. whole flaxseed
1 tsp. fine sea salt
¼ c. sesame seeds, toasted
½ c. sunflower seeds, toasted
Combine water, honey, and oil in a bowl; stir until honey is dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let sit for about 10 minutes or so, until it begins to froth up a bit.
Mix everything else together in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture to the dry mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to combine. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until dough is very elastic. Dough should be slightly tacky. Only add more bread flour, a bit at a time, if the dough is really sticking to your hands.
Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic or a clean kitchen towel. Let sit in a warm place for ~1½ hours, or until the dough has puffed up well. Punch down the dough, then divide it in half. Form each half into two longish loaves and set on a baking sheet that is lightly dusted with flour or lined with a silpat or parchment, leaving space between the loaves. Make a few slashes on the tops of the loaves and cover again. Let sit in same warm spot for another 45 minutes or so, until dough has puffed up again. Preheat oven to 400° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.
Remove plastic or cloth and slide into oven, spritzing with a mist of water quickly before closing the oven door (optional). Bake for ~25 minutes, until bread is golden and crusty all over and sounds hollow when you tap it. Let cool a bit before serving warm or at room temperature.
Our theme at IHCC this week is Harvest Moon.